Jury selection during a personal injury trial is one of the most pivotal moments in the case and can have a dramatic impact on its outcome. While it is common for accident victims to focus on evidence or expert testimony, a competent personal injury attorney will also focus on jury selection. Below is a basic overview of the jury selection process during a personal injury trial and how it can be used to obtain a fair and impartial jury.
Overview of Jury Selection During a Personal Injury Trial
Jury selection involves a series of complex rules and procedures. Selecting a proper jury requires an attorney to have the skill and knowledge it takes to choose the proper individuals who will determine a personal injury verdict. Both sides retain the ability to strike jurors or challenge jurors who do not appear to be in their favor. The attorneys argue who should be stricken and the final decision rests with the judge. If there is a reasonable doubt as to a potential juror’s impartiality, they should be stricken. However, some juror bias can be subjective and dependent upon the judge who is presiding over the case.
Using Jury Selection During a Personal Injury Trial
Jury selection or “voir dire” is the initial stage of a jury trial.Voir dire means “to speak the truth” in Latin. During this stage, attorneys for the Defendant and Plaintiff ask potential jurors questions to determine if they can be impartial for the case before them. The plaintiff’s attorney goes first and will provide basic information about the case to prospective jurors. No evidence is produced during jury selection. Instead, the plaintiff’s attorney asks a series of questions to determine any potential juror bias. Next, the defendant’s attorney will have the opportunity to ask their own questions with the goal of eliminating jurors who may have a predisposed bias or sympathy to the plaintiff.
Cause Challenges During a Personal Injury Trial
After each side has finished their questioning, the attorneys will present whatever challenges they have to the judge. Each side will ask the judge to “strike” potential jurors who have expressed bias during the questioning phase. Judges are present for the questioning of the potential jurors, and can make a ruling about a particular juror’s bias during the challenge phase. Judges will typically strike a juror who has verbally expressed a bias. However, there are some jurors who do not expressly state their bias but who is perceived by either side as being biased against them. For this reason, peremptory challenges allow each side to strike jurors for non-discriminatory reasons. Florida courts allow for limited peremptory challenges. Accordingly, these challenges require a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience with picking personal injury juries.
Wittmer|Linehan knows that a successful jury selection during a personal injury trial is critical to achieve a verdict in your favor. If your case makes it to trial, our knowledgeable attorneys have the trial experience necessary to get you the results you deserve. In 2017, our experience and resources obtained the largest reported personal injury verdict in the history of Sarasota and Manatee counties. We understand that results matter to our clients. Call us at (941) 365-2296 to set up a consultation to discuss your personal injury case.