April 23, 2015 • Legal Terminology
The Procedure of Who Goes First and Last in a Personal Injury Case
A lawsuit can be brought seeking compensation for the harms and losses that a person has suffered because of someone else’s carelessness. It could be an accident, medical malpractice, or even a wrongful death case. The person who initiates the lawsuit has an obligation to prove the case to the jury. This means the plaintiff has to show that he or she is more likely right than wrong. Hence, the plaintiff bats first at the beginning of the trial.
As the victim, you have to show to the jury that the person or company was wrong; they did something careless that caused you injuries and harm. The person who is sued then has an opportunity to rebut these arguments. At the very end of the trial, as both sides are getting close to making their closing remarks or closing arguments, also known as summations, the attorney who is defending the case is the one who is able make the closing arguments to the jury first. The reason this is done is that it allows the person, who is filing the lawsuit to have the last word literally.
Therefore it is the defense attorney who is able to address the jury first during the closing remarks or the summation. He will have the opportunity to explain to the jury what he believes the facts of the case were, and what conclusions the jury should reach on behalf of the defense. After the defense lawyer has finished, your lawyer will have the opportunity to make his closing remarks.
Why does the Plaintiff get to make the Final Remarks?
The reason you go last is that you now have the last opportunity to explain to the jury why they should award a verdict in your favor and not on behalf of the defendant. While making closing remarks, your lawyer will have to discuss the facts of the case, the issues that were brought up, the evidence that was presented, and the relevant inferences that could be drawn.
The defense lawyer on the other hand in his closing remarks can also discuss witness credibility. However, since your lawyer has the chance to give closing remarks after the defense lawyer, he can show the jury why the witnesses were credible and their testimonies should not be dismissed.
What is not Allowed?
One vital aspect about the closing remarks is that neither side can discuss the evidence that was not entered in the case or presented during the trial. If a piece of evidence was determined inadmissible or excluded, then such evidence cannot be mentioned during the closing arguments. This is logical since this evidence was not presented to the jury during the trial and it would be improper to include it during the closing remarks.