When people think about courts and lawsuits, they often think of lengthy and expensive trials. These preconceived notions can be a barrier that keeps accident victims from seeking out justice. The truth is, the New Jersey judicial system has a procedure that allows many cases to get through the system quickly and cheaply. Expedited trials are a litigation tool that eliminates many of the costs of normal trials such as expert witnesses. A New Jersey expedited trial is usually over in a day or two, allowing you to move on with your life.
Expedited trials occur when both sides agree to them. When both the plaintiff (victim) and the defendant agree to have an expedited trial, the court will usually allow it, but courts can’t order expedited trials on their own.
The reason expedited trials are popular is because they are designed to save everyone time and money. Typically, all medical and scientific evidence in an expedited trial will be presented by the lawyers. This is very different from a normal trial where medical experts are flown in at a cost of thousands of dollars a day. Instead, lawyers at an expedited trial simply explain the information found in narrative reports from physicians. Both sides will generally agree to medical and scientific definitions which will be presented to the jury.
Instead of a barrage of witnesses, normally the only people who will testify in an expedited trial are the plaintiff and the defendant. The attorneys will use depositions, reports, and statements instead of live witness testimony. This is combined with time limits for opening and closing statements and restrictions on jury selection; the goal is to keep the trial one day long if possible.
In order to make an expedited trial work, both sides will have to come to agreements on some issues before the start of the trial. They may stipulate that the defendant is responsible for the injury and have a trial solely on the amount of damages. Likewise, they may stipulate the amount of damages, but have a trial to determine who is responsible. In some cases, attorneys will even agree to a range of damages; no matter what the jury says, the damages can’t be lower or higher than that range. Expedited trials generally cannot be appealed.
Expedited trials are popular in situations where the parties are only arguing over one issue and don’t want to waste money on a full trial. This can happen when an insurance company knows it is going to have to pay a New Jersey accident victim but wants a court to decide the amount or whether an injury satisfies New Jersey’s limitation on lawsuit threshold. Parties also choose expedited trials when their cases aren’t likely to lead to large jury awards. For example, in a case where a victim only suffered a few thousand dollars’ worth of damages, it may not make sense incur the legal expenses of hiring experts and spending a week at trial.
Expedited trials are also a useful dispute resolution tool for cases that are a matter of principle. Sometimes all a victim wants is to get in front of a jury and have that jury say they are right. In these cases, it may not be necessary to conduct a full trial.