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What You Should Expect at a Court Hearing in Fort Lauderdale

Whether you have an auto insurance claim, homeowners’ insurance claim, workers’ compensation claim or any other type of claim in Fort Lauderdale, asserting your legal rights may eventually mean going to court. While court hearings in these cases are relatively rare (most settle out of court well before trial), it will be necessary to ask a judge or jury to rule in your favor in some cases.

Let’s say you’ve hired an attorney to file a claim, and, despite your attorney’s best efforts, the liable party is refusing to settle. You need to take your claim to court. What should you expect at your court hearing or trial in Fort Lauderdale?

Answers to 10 FAQs about Going to Court in Fort Lauderdale

Here are the answers to 10 frequently asked questions about going to court in Fort Lauderdale:

Are Court Hearings Like What You See on TV and in Movies?

To be fair, some shows and movies do a better job of accurately depicting court hearings than others. With that said, your court hearing is unlikely to be very similar to anything you may have seen on Netflix or in the movie theater. Real court hearings are far less dramatic, and there are many more formalities and technicalities that slow down the process. While most shows and movies make trials look exciting, there is a good chance that you will be bored at various points in the process. However, it is important to remain attentive, and you should write down any questions or comments you have for your attorney.

Who Goes First?

When you have a personal injury, property damage or workers’ compensation claim, you go first in court. It is your case to prove, and if you (or your attorney) cannot prove your case effectively, then the defense can file a motion for a directed verdict. If you (or your attorney) can present enough evidence to establish a viable claim, then the defense will present its evidence and counterarguments after you present your case in chief.

Do You Have to Dress Up?

Yes, it is important to dress up when going to court. You will want to look professional, and you will want to show the judge that you respect the court and are taking your case seriously. While dressing professionally won’t win your case, dressing unprofessionally can be distracting—and it can subtly influence the judge and jury.

Will You Have to Testify Under Oath?

Whether to testify is an important decision that you will need to make with your attorney. In personal injury, property damage and workers’ compensation cases, it often makes sense to testify. It helps to humanize you—so that the judge and jury aren’t focused solely on the technical legal issues involved. Also, you know your story better than anyone else. If you can tell your story effectively, this can go a long way toward achieving a favorable outcome at your hearing or trial.

If you are nervous about testifying, your attorney can help you prepare (in fact, your attorney will do this even if you aren’t nervous). When your court date arrives, you will know exactly what to say, and you will feel confident in your ability to take the stand.

How Will Your Lawyer Prove Your Case?

While your testimony is one form of evidence your lawyer may use to prove your case, your lawyer will likely need to rely on a variety of other forms of evidence as well. Depending on the nature and the facts of your case, other forms of evidence your lawyer may use during your hearing or trial include:

  • Testimony from other witnesses
  • Testimony from medical and/or financial experts
  • Forensic evidence from the accident site
  • Photos and videos of your injuries or property damage
  • Medical records
  • Cell phone or employment records
  • Accident reconstruction charts, graphics or videos

How Will the Defendant’s Lawyers Fight Your Case?

To fight your case, the defendant’s lawyers may use many (or all) of the same types of evidence. While they may argue that the evidence disproves your claim, they may also argue that your evidence is insufficient to meet your burden of proof. Even if you have some evidence, if your evidence does not prove that it is “more likely than not” that you are entitled to compensation, this is enough for the defense to win a dismissal.

Will a Judge or Jury Decide Your Case?

If you are presenting your case at a hearing, a judge will hear the evidence and arguments and render a decision. If you are taking your case to trial, your attorney will help you decide whether to request a jury trial or a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial at which the judge hears the evidence and renders the verdict. Jury trials and bench trials each offer their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and this is a strategic decision you will need to make relatively early in the process.

What Are the Potential Outcomes?

When you take a personal injury, property damage or workers’ compensation claim to court, there are two primary outcomes: You can win or you can lose. If you win, the judge will award benefits or damages in your favor. If you lose, you will need to consult with your lawyer about filing an appeal.

How Long Will Your Hearing or Trial Take?

The duration of your hearing or trial will depend on the complexity of the issues involved—among other factors. Some cases can be over in a day, while others can take a week or longer.

What Will Happen at the End of Your Case?

If you win your case, the defendant will be obligated to pay the damages awarded in court. If the defendant refuses to pay, your attorney will be able to seek to enforce your judgment through various means. If you lose your case, it will simply be over—unless you have grounds to challenge your verdict at the appellate level.

Contact Maus Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale for More Information

If you need to know more about what to expect after filing a personal injury, property damage or workers’ compensation claim in Fort Lauderdale, we invite you to get in touch. To speak with an attorney at Maus Law Firm in confidence, please call 954-784-6310 or request a free consultation online today.


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