How Can a Judge Impact Personal Injury Cases?
In personal injury cases that involve jury trials, judges can significantly impact the outcome of these cases by how they rule on pre-trial motions and trial objections. Put simply, a judge can impact the outcome of a personal case because they will make the final ruling or decision about the injured plaintiff’s damages. In cases that result in significant verdicts, defense lawyers often ask the judge to reduce the amount of the plaintiff’s damages notwithstanding the verdict of the jury.
Essentially, the rules for personal injury lawsuits (or any kind of lawsuit) are that they must be presented properly. The trial must also be impartial and fair. If the judge determines that the trial is not fair, whether due to improper evidence or argument, they can elect to declare a mistrial. A mistrial is a trial that has been voided or terminated before the jury makes a verdict or a judge renders their verdict in a trial without a jury, known as a bench trial.
What Happens in a Jury Trial?
In a jury trial, a group of jurors, who are people from all walks of life, will be responsible for hearing your personal injury case and reaching a final verdict or ruling. Most personal injury trials are tried with a jury of 12 of your peers determining the financial compensation that is due to make an injured victim whole for their losses. Personal injury cases can appeal to people’s emotions and jurors with diverse life experiences are well suited to hear them.
It may be easier to sway the position of jurors than judges when empathy and emotions are involved in the case. Additionally, jurors can be inclined to see negligent individuals and companies differently and feel more empathetic toward injured victims. This can benefit injured plaintiffs when pursuing a full and fair recovery for all of their losses. The judge, however, will provide instructions to the jury, which leaves an opportunity for an appeal if the instructions are contrary to the law resulting in an unfair verdict.
What Happens in a Bench Trial?
During a bench trial, the judge alone oversees the case and makes the final rulings on the case. They will hear the testimony from the parties, their witnesses, documents, argument from the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant, and render a judgment from the evidence presented. While jury trials are more common in personal injury cases, bench trials are usually faster because judges are already familiar with the laws and proceedings relevant to the case. If the attorneys opt for a bench trial, there will be no need to take the time to choose people that will make up the jury.
Seek Legal Help From a Forsyth County Personal Injury Attorney Today
Figuring out whether a jury trial or bench trial is best for your personal injury case will depend on various factors, such as the cause and nature of your injuries, the requests of the parties involved, and the court jurisdiction, among many others. To find out more about your case, contact the Banks, Stubbs & McFarland. Our Forsyth County personal injury attorneys can help you figure out the most appropriate option moving forward based on the circumstances of your case.
Reach us online or by phone at 770-887-1209 to schedule your free consultation with our Forsyth County personal injury attorneys.