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What Is a Bifurcated Trial?

what is a bifurcated trial

If you’re going to trial in Texas, it’s important to understand the legal terms you’ll hear. One is a bifurcated trial, which is one trial that gets split into two separate trials. The goal of each trial is different, as the first one focuses on determining liability while the second determines damages. As a result, you might not need the second trial if the first one decides you’re not liable, to begin with. If you’re curious about how a bifurcated trial might benefit you, you should get familiar with this concept and then talk to your Texas lawyer about whether it’s right for your case. 

What Are the Two Phases?

When you split one trial into two phases, the first is the liability phase. This is when a judge or jury determines whether the defendant in the case is liable. If the answer is no, there will be no need for the second phase of the trial, and the case will be closed. 

If the answer is that the defendant is liable, those involved will move on to the second phase of the trial to figure out the damages. During this phase, the legal representatives for both the defendant and the plaintiff will present their evidence to determine the amount at which the damages are valued. For instance, in a personal injury case, the plaintiff’s lawyer will show proof of car repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses so the judge can determine how much compensation the victim gets. 

What Are the Benefits of a Bifurcated Trial?

One reason to consider a bifurcated trial is the possibility of saving money on legal fees, as there’s a chance you won’t have to go through the second phase if you’re not found liable in the first phase. This saves money and time since you and your lawyer won’t have to prepare for the damages portion until the liability phase is complete. 

A bifurcated trial can even benefit the plaintiff. This is because some defendants are more willing to compromise during the liability phase to avoid damages. This means they may offer to pay a higher settlement to the plaintiff since they’ll save time and money in legal costs by canceling the second phase. 

Should You Have a Bifurcated Trial?

A bifurcated trial has some benefits, but it’s not right for everyone. For example, since the trial is cut into two phases, plaintiffs can only talk about liability in the first stage, meaning they can’t go into too much detail about how the incident changed their life. They have to wait until the damages phase, which could reduce the compensation they get when they can’t tell the whole story at once. 

You should talk to your lawyer to decide if a bifurcated trial is right for you. After all, this decision requires a lot of knowledge about your case. If you’re ready to hire a Texas lawyer who can provide legal guidance, contact us at (972) 573-4532.

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