In a claim for personal injury, the plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. A court may award the plaintiff with money damages for personal injury. Under specific circumstances, the events which form the basis of a personal injury claim may also form the basis of criminal charges. An example of this would be how a defendant may face a civil lawsuit for assault, in addition to a criminal assault and battery charge.

A personal injury can damage the plaintiff’s emotional health, physical health, or both. Mental health injuries include emotional pain and anguish sustained by an accident. Physical injuries include injuries to organs, limbs, or other parts of the plaintiff’s anatomy. Additionally, the injury sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, as it may develop over time.

There are several different types of events or accidents which may form the basis of a personal injury claim, including:

A personal injury can occur intentionally, such as when the defendant deliberately injures the victim, or intends to commit an act resulting in injury. A personal injury may also occur unintentionally. If an unintentional injury is the result of someone’s negligence, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit based on the negligent behavior. Automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries sustained from medical malpractice are some of the most common examples.

What Is A Pretrial Conference In A Personal Injury Case?

The purpose of pre-trial conferences in personal injury law cases is to have a meeting between the plaintiff’s counsel, the defendant’s counsel, and the judge. In general, during a pretrial conference, a judge will ask where the parties are at in terms of settlement, and whether there is any chance that the case can be settled before the trial begins. If there is any possibility of settlement, the judge will generally ask for some details about the case in an attempt to guide the parties towards a resolution.

If there is no real possibility of settlement, the judge will begin by asking the parties about the issues in the case, as well as how many days the parties expect the trial to take. Judges also ask the parties regarding how many jurors they believe will be needed in the selection pool in order to seat a jury of 12. However, some state and federal courts have juries of only six.

After that, the judge will view each party’s exhibit list, and will want to know if any exhibits are admissible without any objections prior to the trial beginning. Additionally, the judge will want to know the name and information of each witness that the parties anticipate to call. If there will be any deposition testimony offered, the judge will want the parties to designate any objections that they have to the testimony. During the pretrial conference, the judge will hear any objections to the testimony.

Generally speaking, the plaintiff’s counsel will file a motion in limine. A motion in limine is a motion which attempts to have the court pre-rule on objections to evidence, so that any prejudicial or inflammatory evidence or questions will not be asked in front of the jury. Rather, it will be ruled on ahead of time. Some judges want rough drafts of jury instructions to be ready, or they may wish to see any photos that will be presented to the jury before the start of the trial.

What Are Some Examples Of The Specific Types Of Issues That Are Discussed During A Pretrial Conference?

Another purpose of pre-trial conferences in civil cases would be for the judges and lawyers to discuss the pretrial conference procedure. Examples of this include:

  • Simplifying some of the legal issues involved in the trial;
  • Eliminating any claims or defenses that would be considered frivolous;
  • Identifying documents to be used as evidence;
  • Identifying witnesses, such as bystanders or witnesses to an accident;
  • Obtaining any admissions of guilt or liability;
  • Creating a timetable for the submission of motions and briefs;
  • Discussing any possible rulings on motions that were already submitted; and
  • As was previously discussed, determining if there is any possibility of a settlement.

Judges generally request information such as:

  • Past lost wages;
  • Past medical expenses;
  • Future lost wages;
  • Future lost earning capacity;
  • Future medical procedures; and
  • Future medical expenses.

The judge will also discuss whether the court will ask questions or whether the lawyers will be allowed to do so, as well as the defendant’s insurance policy with the jurors.

In pretrial conferences in criminal cases, matters that do not inquire into the defendant’s guilt or innocence are discussed. Federal and state courts use pretrial conferences in criminal cases to decide preliminary matters, such as what evidence will be excluded from trial and what witnesses will be allowed to testify.

Generally speaking, pretrial conference substances in criminal cases mirror those in civil cases. At the conference, the judge may make motions, eliminate repetitive evidence, and set schedules. The overall goal of a pretrial conference is to settle matters without disputes in order to avoid wasting time on unnecessary proofs during the trial. In the same way, the discussion of a possible pretrial settlement is an especially important topic, as was previously discussed.

What Should I Do If I Have A Dispute During A Pretrial Conference?

The exact reason that pretrial conferences happen is so that judges can hear issues about witnesses and legal issues. The judge can rule on those issues, or else give guidance before trial. If you have a dispute during a pretrial conference that cannot be resolved, there is a good chance that your case will proceed to trial.

If preliminary issues arise after the pretrial conference, a party may request a special hearing with the court in order to address the issue, which is different from a pretrial hearing and a pretrial conference. Alternatively, parties may address issues in court on the first day of trial, without the presence of the jury.

All cases are guided by procedural rules which allow the parties to obtain evidence from each other. This process of turning over evidence is called discovery, and the rules that apply to obtaining and sharing evidence are called discovery rules.

In civil cases, either party has the right to obtain evidence from the other; in criminal cases, the defendant’s attorneys have the right to access the necessary information to prepare a defense. This is relevant because discovery issues are most commonly discussed during pretrial conferences.

Pretrial conferences are considered to be mandatory. As such, all judges require the attorneys to be present. In many jurisdictions, the plaintiff and defendant must also be present. If you or your attorney does not appear at the pretrial conference, there is a good chance that you will lose your trial setting.

There is also the risk that the court will dismiss the case for your failure to appear at an important meeting, as pretrial conferences are considered to be an important part of the judicial process.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Represent Me In A Pretrial Conference?

A lawyer is generally needed during pretrial conferences, because much negotiation and discussions with the other party and their lawyer may occur during pretrial.

As such, it is generally recommended that you hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as a legal issue arises, so that they can assist with pretrial conferences and other pre-trial issues.