Many personal injury accident cases are settled through negotiations between the plaintiff and defendant long before an actual lawsuit is even prepared. There are times, however, when a personal injury accident case simply cannot be resolved through negotiations and therefore a trial becomes inevitable. When a personal injury accident goes to trial, the outcome is in the hands of 12 people that neither the plaintiff or the defendant have ever laid eyes on – the jury.
Jury selection will vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the basic procedure is the same. The first step in finding a jury to hear any case is to randomly select a group of people from the jury pool to report for jury duty. We’ve all heard of jury duty right? The jury pool is comprised of all the registered voters in the county where the trial is to take place. The court administration will determine how many juries-criminal and civil- that they anticipate will actually begin on a given day, Based on that, they will bring in a number of potential jurors from the jury pool. From the initial group of potential jurors, 13 of them will be brought in to the courtroom for a 12 member jury. In most jurisdictions a personal injury accident case will be heard by a 12 person jury. A 13th person will hear the case as the alternate juror but will not deliberate at the end of the trial unless one of the original jurors is unable to complete her duties.
The potential jurors will have filled out juror questionnaires at some point either before arriving at the courthouse or once they get there. The questionnaires are intended to give the attorneys some basic background information about the potential jurors. Once the potential jurors are seated in the courtroom, the process of voir dire begins. During this stage, the attorneys are entitled to question the jurors in person. Again, the idea is for the attorneys to get a better idea of who the potential jurors are and to try and determine who they want on the jury. Each side can challenge a jury for cause for very specific reasons such as bias or personal knowledge of the case. Each side will then also be able to exercise a specific number of peremptory challenges. These challenges do not require a reason. This is an attorneys’ chance to try and prevent a potential juror from becoming part of the final jury if it appears after voir dire that they would not be likely to be sympathetic to his clients’ claim or defense. Potential jurors will continue to be called until all challenges have been used and there are the required number of jurors to hear the case.
As you can see, while your attorney will have some input into who ultimately sits on the jury, chance plays a large part in determining who will decide your personal injury accident case.
If you would like a detailed evaluation of a California personal injury accident case that you may have, please call attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit him online at www.ledgerlaw.com
Ledger Law Firm (Los Angeles Office)
811 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90017