You may have heard that most personal injury cases settle before a trial needs to be held in civil court. That's true for hernia mesh cases too. Chances are that at some point between the filing of your lawsuit and the date set for trial on the court calendar, you and your attorney will reach a settlement agreement with the manufacturer of the defective mesh, or with the health care defendant who committed medical malpractice during your mesh surgery.
But it's also true that hernia mesh cases can't always be settled. Maybe the parties can't agree on who might be liable for the hernia mesh patient's harm, or perhaps the liability picture is clear but the parties are much too far apart when it comes the the settlement value of the hernia mesh plaintiff's case.
Whatever the reason, if your hernia mesh lawsuit can't be resolved via settlement, you're probably wondering what happens at trial. Court procedure rules vary from state to state, but many steps are common in most states, so let's look at what you can expect.
The trial date the court assigns to your hernia mesh case is not the date on which testimony will begin. First, both sides will file motions in limine, seeking to exclude some of the other side's evidence. Next, a jury will be selected through a process called voir dire, where potential jurors are asked a series of questions, partially to determine if they harbor any biases or prejudices that might keep them from being fair and impartial.
After a jury is selected and seated, the trial starts, with opening statements by each party that set the stage for the jury and lay out the different sides of the case—what they will prove or refute.
Following opening statements, the plaintiff's attorney presents the plaintiff's case, since the plaintiff has the "burden of proof" to show:
For example, the plaintiff's attorney might call as a witness the plaintiff's doctor, to present testimony on the specifics of how the hernia mesh failed, the initial diagnosis, the course of medical treatment that was required to fix the problem, the plaintiff's prognosis for a full recovery, and any care that will be required in the future.
Will You Need to Testify at Your Hernia Mesh Trial? It's a near certainty. It's your case after all, and the jury will be looking to hear from you right off the bat. Chances are your lawyer will start preparing you at least a couple of weeks before trial. The secret to trial testimony is that neither you nor your lawyer want any surprises in the courtroom. When you take the stand, you should know exactly what questions your lawyer is going to be asking you, and in what order. And, just as importantly, your lawyer should know what all of your answers are going to be.
After the plaintiff has presented all relevant evidence, it's the defendant's turn to call witnesses. For example, the defendant's attorney might call a medical expert who will offer his or her professional opinion that the hernia mesh didn't fail, it was improperly implanted—pointing the finger away from the manufacturer and toward the surgeon who performed the implant procedure.
Following presentation of evidence, the attorney for each side gives a closing argument, which is each side's opportunity to persuade the jury to draw certain conclusions from the evidence, and then render a verdict accordingly.
Following closing arguments, the jury moves to a room apart from the courtroom, where it considers ("deliberates on") the evidence and eventually reaches a verdict. Sometimes this process takes just a few hours, but it can last a few days or even longer (there's no time limit imposed on the jury).
If the jury has concluded that the hernia mesh manufacturer or health care provider is liable, the jury needs to decide on the appropriate amount of damages to award. Damages typically include medical expenses (past and future), lost income, and "pain and suffering." Learn more about pain and suffering in a hernia mesh case.
Regardless of which side wins a hernia mesh trial, the other side might appeal the verdict. The decision to appeal is case-specific, so if there is a verdict in favor of the defense you will need to discuss with your attorney why it happened and what an appeal will look like. If you're the plaintiff and you get a verdict in your favor, but the defendant mesh manufacturer (or health care provider) appeals, you probably won't be able to collect any judgment until the appellate court upholds the verdict.
Get more details on the timeline of a hernia mesh case and how to find the right attorney for you and your case.