Does New York City Have Jury Trials for Civil Personal Injury Cases?
Injuries can happen any time anywhere. When involved in a serious accident, New Yorkers may ask themselves whether they have the right to a trial by jury in their personal injury case or whether they have to rely on insurance claims or a bench trial.
Injury victims do have a right to a jury trial in New York City in many cases. However, New York City’s jury system can be difficult to navigate. Having legal representation can help you understand the jury system process, the pros and cons of having a jury trial, and the burden of proof to overcome in order to win your case.
Our New York City personal injury attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm in New York City can guide you through your case. Call us at (718) 841-0083 for a free case review.
Types of Cases that Have a Right to aTrial by Jury in New York City
Most people are familiar with the concept of the right to have a trial by a jury of one’s peers, but it is usually understood in the context of criminal cases. New Yorkers also have the right to a jury trial in most civil cases, including personal injury. Under the Constitution of the State of New York, Article I, § 2, any right to trial guaranteed by the United States Constitution is also guaranteed under New York’s.
Cases “At Law” vs. Cases “In Equity”
Not every civil case has the right to a jury trial, though. Only civil cases “at law” have the right to a trial by jury. Civil cases “in equity” do not.
The best way to understand the difference is that in a civil case “at law,” one party is typically seeking money for damages that they may have suffered in the accident, like medical bills or pain and suffering. In a case “in equity,” one party is usually asking the court for a specific order to compel another party to do or not do something. Fear not, however. Personal injury cases are cases “at law” and so your right to a jury trial is guaranteed.
The Burden of Proof in a New York City Jury Trial
The “burden of proof” is the standard your evidence must meet to prove your personal injury case to the jury. Civil cases in New York City have much different standards than criminal cases.
You are probably familiar with the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt,” meaning that a jury must believe that the crime was committed to a very high degree of confidence. This is the highest burden of proof for a party to overcome and generally only applies in criminal cases.
The standard you would need to overcome to prove your personal injury case is much lower. In a New York City personal injury case, a jury only needs to believe that the plaintiff’s claims are more likely than not, a standard the court refers to as a “preponderance of the evidence.” Talk to your Queens personal injury lawyer about what evidence is needed to meet this burden.
The Number of Jurors in a New York City Personal Injury Trial
The number of people that you will need to convince in your personal injury trial is much lower than that of a criminal case. In most civil cases – including personal injury cases– only six jurors are typically used as opposed to the 12 used in criminal trials.
There is also no requirement that all the jurors must agree on the verdict. Your Albany personal injury lawyers only need to convince five of the six jurors to win your personal injury case.
Jury Trials vs. Bench Trials for Personal Injury Cases in New York City
Once you have determined to that you want to file a claim for personal injury, the important choice becomes whether exercising your right to a jury trial is the best move for your case. Where you have the right to trial by jury, you also have the right to “waive” it. This means that instead of a jury hearing the facts of your case and making the final decision, a judge would act as the fact finder. This is what is known as a “bench trial.”
The strategies involved in a bench trial may be very different from those of a jury trial and could have a significant impact on the outcome of the case. The obvious advantage of a bench trial is that you only have one person to convince as opposed to five of the six jurors.
But a judge can be a hard person to convince, as many attorneys will attest to. While they may understand how the law applies to the facts of your case better than a jury would, judges tend to be more skeptical and less sympathetic to your claims.
Jurors, on the other hand, may be more understanding of your personal injury case. Many jurors have been in your position and may sympathize with your plight more than a judge might. During your trial, some jurors will no doubt recall battles they had with insurance adjusters or attorneys. This is a strong advantage for any Buffalo personal injury attorney and their client to consider.
It is important to remember, however, that the more complex your case is, the more challenging it will be for the jury to decide in your favor. It may be hard for a jury to understand how the accident happened or why the defendant is technically at fault. In this case, a bench trial may be preferable.
Deciding If a Jury Trial in New York City is Right for You
Most cases never make it to trial, instead settling long before that point. Trials can be expensive, and they are not always short affairs. Nevertheless, trial is sometimes necessary. Whether you should exercise your right to a trial by jury will be highly dependent on the facts of your personal injury case, and it is something you should always consult with your Brroklyn personal injury lawyers about.
The costs of court filings, deposing other parties, hiring experts, and other expenses can add up quickly. In some cases, it could be better to settle than risk the jury deciding your case. However, the potential award a jury might grant you for damages could outweigh the risks of pursuing your case to trial.
Call Our New York City Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
At The Carrion Law Firm, our experienced Utica personal injury lawyers can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a having a jury trial. Call us at (718) 841-0083 today for a free case evaluation.