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Trial by Judge or Jury for Your Personal Injury Case

February 14, 2015 Legal Terminology

If your case goes to trial, who actually decides, whether your case is going to be heard by a judge or by a jury? It could be an accident case, wrongful death case, or medical malpractice case, how do you decide whether a judge or jury is going to hear your case?

The Type of Personal Injury Case


Trial by judge can be demanded in cases where the compensation amount is less than $50,000.

It will depend on the type of case you have, and when the defense has clearly acknowledged and agreed that, they are responsible for the happening of your injuries. However, the defense agreeing to the wrongdoing is extremely rare. The defense almost never says that they acknowledge their mistake and are willing to go ahead to enable the court to decide what the injuries are worth.

However, if this were to happen, you would like to have a jury of your peers, deciding what the value of your injuries are worth. This would mean, six people of the community will come and sit in judgment, and will listen to doctors, and other testimonies about what happened to you and the way the injuries have affected your life.

In a case where there is simply an issue of law, when the judge has to make a determination, based on the facts that are presented, in such an instance, you would want the judge to make that decision. The judge will listen to whatever testimony is necessary, and then come upon a conclusion based upon what the law says on the matter.

In every car accident case, the plaintiff will claim that somebody was careless, and the other driver will turn around and refute the allegation. In every medical malpractice case, there is a clear dispute, where the plaintiff will claim that the doctor has violated the basic standards of medical care. On the other hand, the doctor and his attorney will say that there was no deviation from the standards of medical care.

The Law and the Truth

This same thing happens in every type of personal injury case or civil litigation, where somebody has suffered injury or untimely death. There is always a clear factual dispute. In such a situation, a jury is called upon to decide, who is more likely right than wrong. The jury has to determine who is telling the truth, and who is not telling the truth. Once the jury concludes about who is more likely right than wrong, then they can resolve those factual disputes about whom they believe and who they do not believe. Then the judge will give them the law to apply, to the facts that they have just determined.

The Value of the Case

Another factor that could determine the hearing of the case by a judge or jury is the value of the case or the amount of alleged damages. For instance, in many states, if the damages are less than $50,000 the plaintiff cannot request a trial by jury, and a judge will usually preside over the case. Hence, there is a threshold amount for the case to qualify you for a jury trial.