October 26, 2014 • Personal Injury FAQs
In the state of New York, when you file a personal injury lawsuit, you have the option of having your case heard by a judge or by a six-member jury. When the case is heard by a judge, and the judge renders the decision, it is called a bench trial. However, most injured victims in New York, prefer to have their case heard by a jury, and have the decision rendered by them.
In a bench trial, you are presenting your case and all the evidence to one person. The judge will be making the rulings according to the law. The judge will first decide whether your case has enough merit to proceed with a trial. If the lawsuit is accepted, then the judge will ultimately decide after the trial, the amount of compensation that should be awarded to you.
However, almost no personal injury cases in New York are tried by a judge alone. There is a strong preference for a jury trial, whether it is a personal injury case, wrongful death case, or medical malpractice case. This is because most lawyers believe that injured victims have a much better chance of justice when their case is heard by multiple members of a jury, who will hear the case and decide about compensation.
One cannot say for certain that injured victims will always have a better shot with a jury. However, most lawyers have their reasons for preferring a jury trial to a bench trial. Most people in the legal field think that judges hear these types of cases all the time, and hence they may be jaded, which would affect their decision. Therefore, most lawyers do not want such a person to make the decision about compensation, and would rather have several members of a jury who are not weary of such cases.
Explaining Your Case
Since victims in the state of New York want proper justice and adequate compensation for their injuries, they will always select their case to be heard by a jury of their peers. The jury will consist of six people of the community, who will be hearing the evidence, and will ultimately decide whether the plaintiff has proven his case. If they feel the victim has proven his case, then they will decide how much compensation should be awarded, depending on the level of injuries, and how those injuries have affected the life of the victim.
Members of the community who form the jury will not be jaded, and they will have a fresh perspective to the case. They will be able to relate to the suffering of the victim in a much better way compared to a judge, and therefore will be able to arrive at a more reasonable compensation for the victim. Hence, opting for a jury trial in personal injury cases is much better, compared to a bench trial.