If your personal injury case is scheduled for trial, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to prepare yourself. In many, if not most cases, a personal injury trial is someone’s first experience with a trial beyond what they have seen on television. While you can’t possibly prepare for every possibility, and some things are beyond your control, there are certain things you can do to prepare for your New Jersey personal injury trial, to reduce stress and anxiety.
Clear Your Calendar for Your Personal Injury Trial
While one can never say for certain how long a personal injury trial will take, rest assured it will require at least a day of your time. In many cases, personal injury trials go on for several days. Speak with someone on your legal team about the number of days you should set aside for the trial. While you will have your evenings free, and there are bound to be periods of down time, expect most of your days will be consumed by activities related to the trial. Make sure you have taken the time off of work, have child care arranged, and other obligations either delegated or rescheduled. Even though you will be sitting silently next to your lawyer for most of the trial, most people report the experience is quite draining. Don’t plan to accomplish eight hours of work, for example, in the evenings.
Review Your Wardrobe Ahead of Time
During the trial, the last thing you need is added stress in an area easily addressed ahead of time. Take a moment to review your possible wardrobe choices. In answer to the question, “How should I dress for trial?” a common rule of thumb is, “Wear what you would wear to a dress up occasion.” If you regularly wear a suit, by all means, go ahead and wear one to court. However, if you are not generally in a suit, your discomfort will be obvious.
Your clothes should be clean, fit properly, and show an appropriate amount of respect for the court and the proceedings. For men, a pair of dress pants or khaki slacks are an appropriate choice. Pair these with a button-down shirt and, if you are comfortable, a tie. For women, consider black or khaki slacks or a skirt below the knee. A sweater or blouse is fine.
Take a moment to ensure your clothes are clean and free of stains. Check zippers and buttons to make sure they work properly. Nothing throws a day into chaos like discovering your wardrobe is malfunctioning. Reviewing you wardrobe only takes a few minutes and can save you untold stress during the trial.
Take a Field trip to the Courthouse
Take a trip to the courthouse before your trial. If you can, make the trip around the same time as you will when headed to the trial. This will give you an idea about how much traffic to expect and how long the trip will take. Consider public transportation, if available, so you don’t have the added headache of parking. If you are planning to drive, take some time to review parking options. Most courthouses have some parking. However, depending on the day, these parking lots may be full. Identify at least two possible parking options, so that you won’t have to worry about this on the day of trial.
Park your car and go in to the courthouse itself. Again, if you can, go at the same time of day you will for the trial. Most courthouses have some form of security line you will be expected to go through. During your “trial run,” you will get an idea of how much time a security line will take – which is much preferred to discovering this on the first day of trial, when the lawyers, the judge, and quite possibly the jurors are waiting for you on the other side of security.
Finally, while at the courthouse, take some time to explore the layout. Is there a screen that lists all the cases being heard? Are they posted on a bulletin board? How do you determine which courtroom your case has been assigned? Sometimes, your personal injury trial lawyer will know your courtroom assignment ahead of time. Other times, you won’t know until you get there. Locate the bathroom, the vending machines, determine if lunch at the courthouse is an option.
Review Relevant Documents
Prior to trial, it is a good idea to review relevant documents. This will include your deposition testimony. It will also include your personal injury journal, if you kept one. You should also review any other documents your lawyer asks you to review. If your lawyer asks you to do something in preparation for trial, trust that your lawyer has a reason for this request.
Expect to Meet with your Personal Injury Trial Attorney
Your personal injury trial attorney and/or their team will want to meet with you prior to the trial. You can expect they may want to review questions with you, show you exhibits, or discuss their personal preferences with clients during trial. Most attorneys are unable to listen to a witness testifying and a client whispering in their ear at the same time. Consequently, most lawyers have preferred methods of communications with their clients during trial. Some lawyers are fine with clients writing notes and passing them during testimony. Other attorneys prefer the client make a note and keep it to themselves until there is a break, at which time the lawyer will review the note. This varies attorney to attorney. Your attorney will let you know their personal preference.
When Your Personal Injury Case Goes to Trial
When your personal injury case can’t be resolved, a looming trial may seem daunting. While you can’t account for everything, there are things you can do to reduce the anxiety associated with trial. By planning ahead and informing yourself, you will arrive on the day of trial calm, comfortable with your surroundings, prepared, and with plenty of time to spare. Most cases settle before trial, but when a trial is needed, the attorneys at Rosner Law Offices, P.C. are ready. Our personal injury trial attorneys have the litigation experience you need to handle your case. Contact us at 856-692-6500 to discuss your personal injury case today.