Glossary of Basic Terms for Auto Accident Trials Everyone Should Know

AppealA request made to a high­er court to review the judg­ment of a low­er court for legal errors.
Bur­den of ProofThe respon­si­bil­i­ty of the plain­tiff to prove the defen­dan­t’s neg­li­gence in a civ­il tri­al by a pre­pon­der­ance of evidence.
Clos­ing ArgumentsThe final oppor­tu­ni­ty for attor­neys to sum­ma­rize their case and per­suade the jury in favor of their client.
Depo­si­tionA for­mal inter­view con­duct­ed under oath, where attor­neys ques­tion wit­ness­es and par­ties involved in the case.
Dis­cov­ery PhaseThe pre-tri­al stage where both par­ties gath­er evi­dence and infor­ma­tion through writ­ten dis­cov­ery and depositions.
Expert Wit­nessA pro­fes­sion­al who pro­vides an expert opin­ion on spe­cif­ic aspects of the case, such as acci­dent reconstruction.
Hung JuryA jury that can­not reach a unan­i­mous or major­i­ty ver­dict, poten­tial­ly result­ing in a mis­tri­al and retrial.
Inter­roga­to­riesWrit­ten ques­tions sent by one par­ty to anoth­er dur­ing the dis­cov­ery phase, which must be answered under oath.
Judg­mentThe offi­cial deci­sion of the court, based on the jury’s ver­dict or a judge’s ruling.
Jury Delib­er­a­tionThe process where jurors dis­cuss the evi­dence and argu­ments pre­sent­ed to reach a verdict.
Jury Instruc­tionsGuide­lines pro­vid­ed by the judge to help jurors under­stand the legal stan­dards they must apply when deliberating.
Jury Selec­tionThe process where poten­tial jurors are ques­tioned to deter­mine their impar­tial­i­ty and suit­abil­i­ty for the case.
Medi­a­tionA process where a neu­tral third par­ty facil­i­tates nego­ti­a­tions between par­ties to reach a set­tle­ment agreement.
MotionA request made to the court to address spe­cif­ic issues before or dur­ing the trial.
Open­ing StatementsThe ini­tial oppor­tu­ni­ty for attor­neys to out­line their ver­sion of the events and the evi­dence they will present.
Pre­pon­der­ance of EvidenceThe stan­dard of proof in civ­il tri­als, requir­ing the plain­tiff to prove it is more like­ly than not that the defen­dant was negligent.
Set­tle­mentA mutu­al­ly agreed-upon res­o­lu­tion between par­ties, typ­i­cal­ly involv­ing finan­cial com­pen­sa­tion, with­out going to trial.
Sum­ma­ry JudgmentA pre-tri­al motion request­ing that the judge rule in favor of one par­ty with­out going to tri­al, based on the evi­dence presented.
Tri­al StrategyThe plan devel­oped by an attor­ney to present their case, includ­ing key wit­ness­es, expert tes­ti­mo­ny, and evidence.
Ver­dictThe deci­sion reached by the jury, deter­min­ing whether the defen­dant is liable and award­ing com­pen­sa­tion if appropriate.