In a car accident lawsuit, the injured victim (the plaintiff) brings a case against the at-fault driver (the defendant) with the hopes of recovering financial compensation for bodily injury, property damage, and pain and suffering. If both parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case could go to trial in front of a jury. If you were injured and are about to enter into the trial process, it’s important you understand how a jury is selected, what they do, and how they make a decision.
The Jury Selection Process
People who live in the county where the case will take place are summoned for jury duty—usually 30 – 60 people. Both attorneys question potential jurors to identify biases that may keep them from deciding fairly. Each attorney can opt to dismiss at least 4 and no more than 8 jurors for any reason, unless it has to do with a federally protected identity. At the final count, a jury is usually 12 people, and in Tennessee, every juror must be:
- A resident of Tennessee—meaning the juror has lived there for 12 months or more
- A resident of the county in which the trial will take place
- At least 18 years old
The Role of a Jury in a Car Accident Trial
The jury, as an impartial entity, serves by listening to arguments and evidence from both sides. Although it’s impossible to know how a jury will decide a case, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the plaintiff won in 56 percent of civil cases, which include car accident suits. Additionally, the group must only consider the information presented by the plaintiff and defendant. Then, the jury uses evidence, statements, and arguments to deliberate two main issues behind closed doors:
- Who is liable or at fault? To reach an acceptable decision, the jury must return a unanimous verdict—that is, all 12 must be in agreement.
- How much are the damages worth? With the information at hand, the jury adds up how much the victim may need to pay for medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, the judge can declare a mistrial—which means the case can be tried again with a different jury.
When You Have Questions and Need Answers
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need legal help, contact the Holton Law Firm. We are trial lawyers who win cases for our clients, and we want to win for you, too. Contact us today by calling 888-443-4387.