Persons injured in motor vehicle accidents often ask if they have a right to a jury trial on their claim. In federal court and in many state courts, the right to a jury trial in civil cases seeking money damages is a constitutional right. That means that if a party properly invokes the right to jury trial, the contested issues of a fact will be decided by a jury. The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution expressly preserves the right to jury trial in civil cases involving “common law” claims. Most personal injury cases are based in tort, which is a “common law” claim.
Some exceptions apply depending on the nature of the claims being made and the type of remedy being sought. For example, if a party seeks a remedy that does not entail an award of money, or brings the claim under certain statutes passed by a legislature, the case may be decided by a judge without a jury.
A jury normally consists of members of the community who are not biased in favor of the injured party, the insurance company or other corporate interests involved in the case. The jury can be expected to listen to the evidence and render a decision consistent with fair standards and the judge’s instructions on the applicable rules of law governing the case.
A party injured in an accident has the right to consult an attorney about the right to a jury trial and the pros and cons of submitting the claim to a jury. The attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde, Ltd. offer free initial consultations to individuals who wish to explore their rights. The toll-free number is 800-607-3030.