DC Nursing Home Abuse Trial Process

Trials follow a set pattern of events that begin with the jury selection process. Although there is little opportunity for counsel to select jurors in the District of Columbia, the jury selection remains very important. Due to the intricate nature of this process, jury selection requires the knowledge and foresight of a DC nursing home abuse attorney.

Opening Statements

Following jury selection, the trial begins with opening statements. The plaintiff bears the burden of proof, and therefore the plaintiff typically has the first and the last opportunity to address the jury. Because of this, the plaintiff is afforded the opportunity to provide an opening statement first, followed by the defense.

Once opening statements are complete, it is then the plaintiff’s opportunity to present his or her case to the jury. The attorney representing the plaintiff will work through the necessary witnesses and evidence to establish both liability—who is at fault—and damages—what compensation will be awarded—as necessary in that particular case.

Affirmative Defense

An affirmative defense is a defense that is available to the defendant or at-fault party. However, because it is an affirmative defense, the defendant bears the burden of proof of establishing the evidence necessary to support the defense.

Any affirmative defense offered to a defendant, such as in a nursing home situation, could exonerate the defendant from any and all liability or fallibility. The significance is great in that if there are facts to support an affirmative defense that the defendant can present at trial, they may be exonerated from liability.

Common Affirmative Defenses

The affirmative defenses utilized by defendants in any particular case depend on how exactly the incident occurred. If for example, a person in a nursing home fell when they should have been more closely monitored, the defendant may assert through an affirmative defense that they were not on notice of the nursing home resident’s propensity to fall. Therefore, a lack of notice may serve as an affirmative defense in those circumstances.

There can be other types of affirmative defenses if the incident occurs in a different way. The affirmative defenses typically depend on how the incident occurred and what either was done or not done by the nursing home.

The most important thing about an affirmative defense is to understand what it is and how it is being presented. The facts of the incident are going to be the same for both the injured person and the defendant.

Therefore, it is how these facts are argued before the jury that will support an affirmative defense. Knowing the affirmative defense the nursing home is attempting to set up will allow the injured person to head off or defend against it throughout the course of the trial.

Cross Examination

Once the plaintiff presents direct testimony, the defense is afforded the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses. At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case, the plaintiff will rest his or her case. At that time, the defense is able to present evidence of its own. The defense may use such evidence in a number of ways.

For example, the defense may use evidence to establish an affirmative defense such as contributory negligence and/or assumption of risk. Sometimes, the defense may not present any active testimony besides the cross-examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses. Again, these issues depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

Closing Statements

The case concludes with closing statements. As with opening statements, the plaintiff is afforded the opportunity to first address the jury, followed by the defense. Following these statements, the plaintiff has an opportunity to rebut or respond to any closing statements made by the defense. In this way, the plaintiff is afforded an opportunity to have the last word with the jury.

Typically, the judge does not interact with the parties during the course of the trial. One exception to this is that the judge may be called upon for the termination of an objection that is made during the trial. Such objections are typically either sustained or overruled, with the basis for such rulings typically made without help from the jury.

The court’s largest interaction with the jury is providing jury instructions. Jury instructions enable courts to provide the jury with the law of the case. The jury then uses these instructions to apply the facts and the information they have taken over the course of the trial within the context of the applicable laws.

In summation, trials are formal processes that follow specific guidelines that separate each party’s role in the overall processes.

Trials With Multiple Defendants

Trials can involve multiple parties on either side of the case. Sometimes, it makes more sense for each individual party to conduct its own trial. In other circumstances, it makes sense for multiple plaintiffs to file suit against multiple defendants. When, or how, or why this occurs depends upon the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

Length of a Nursing Home Trial

The DC nursing home abuse settlement process timeline is dependent upon a number of different factors. Some factors that go into how long a settlement can take are the nature and extent of the injuries sustained by the client as well as the treatment necessary to resolve those injuries.

For example, if the injured party must undergo active treatment for a number of years, then the case simply should not be settled until the patient understands the current status of their condition and whether or not they will recover from their injuries.

Some other issues that can prolong the settlement process include the difficult collection of medical bills and records and the willingness of the at-fault insurance company to engage in settlement discussions.

However, it is important to remember there is little that the injured person can do to force the other party to settle the claim. Therefore, if a settlement is desired, it is ultimately reached according to the respective parties’ terms and timeline.

Benefit of An Attorney

Typically, any trial will have certain issues that are critical to the success or failure of the case. Such issues may arise in relation to a piece of evidence or the manner in which a witness testifies. An experienced injury attorney will recognize these issues and will closely monitor the evidence and testimony offered surrounding them. In this way, the attorney will be able to work to prevent a given issue from becoming adverse to the attorney’s position.

An experienced nursing home attorney can recognize when a defendant will preserve an affirmative defense. They can work with the injured person or their family to explain their situation and present the claim to the jury.

In this way, the attorney will be able to work to prevent a given issue from becoming adverse to the attorney’s position. If, for any reason, an objection needs to be made and the court is unwilling to rule in favor of the objecting party, then an attorney will state his or her position fully on the record in order to preserve the objection in the event that the case is appealed.