Nov. 16, 2021
Most people hurt in car accidents want to get treatment to feel better, get fairly compensated for what they've been through, and then move on with life. Few people want to go to a jury trial. When you have a personal injury case, it is important to know at least a little about how the jury trial system works.
Most cases don't go to a trial. When a case does go to a trial it is usually because there is a dispute about who caused the accident, or the extent of the victim's injuries, or just what the case is worth. While most clients don't want to go to trial, sometimes you have to in order to get a fair result.
A jury is usually made up of six jurors and two alternate jurors. These people come from the community, and they have no relationship with the case or any attorney involved with the case. In Connecticut, before someone gets on a jury, the attorneys have a chance to question them. The victim's attorney and the insurance company's attorney will have a chance to ask them questions about whether they can be fair to both sides in the trial.
The people who are selected to be on a jury usually have no experience with similar accident cases. If they had a similar accident or injury they are usually excused. Jurors are not expected to know anything about the law- the judge will give them instructions on the law. Selecting a jury and talking to potential jurors can take two to five days. This is time spent in court before the trial begins.
Unless the insurance company is a named party to the lawsuit, the jury usually never hears anything about insurance. During the whole trial, the jury will not know whether the person who caused the accident has insurance or not. Usually, they assume that they do, because usually, they do have insurance. Someone that can't afford auto insurance is usually not going to be able to afford to have an attorney represent them for a case and a trial. Most people think it is odd that a trial won't mention insurance.
Jury trials can be a little bit of a gamble because an accident victim is putting their fate in the hands of six people who don't know them and have no experience with accidents or the law. Most honest trial attorneys will tell you they've won cases they should have lost and vice versa because a jury trial can be unpredictable. I've been fortunate to have had very good results, but there is no guarantee for a future case.