What Should Jurors Know | Stanley Law Offices
January 12, 2016
Have you ever served as a juror? Each year more than 600,000 people serve on juries across New York State. If you’re called for jury duty and ultimately selected to serve, it’s almost certain you’ll have questions like “Why must I serve?” “How long must I serve? Can I postpone to a more convenient date? Who pays my jury fee? What should I tell my employer? What does it mean if we’re sequestered? Can I talk about the case? What if I know who the attorney is?”
Jury service is one of the most important civic duties you can perform. In personal injury cases that we litigate here at Stanley Law, if we aren’t able to settle with the insurance companies on behalf of our client, the case goes to trial. The trial is a jury trial. A jury trial or trial by jury is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact, which then direct the actions of a judge. It is distinguished from a bench trial, in which a judge or panel of judges make all decisions. There are two types of trials, either criminal or civil. All personal injury cases that go to trial go to civil trial.
The goal of any trial is fairness and justice offered through the teamwork of a judge and impartial jury. The challenge we and all attorneys face is that impartial is next to, if not completely, impossible. Jurors each bring their own life experiences, expansive or limited, into the courtroom. They make judgements based on what they believe is right and wrong and their own history. So many TV shows are based around the drama of the courtroom because it generates curiosity and the process can be intriguing to many. Our trials are not tv drama, they’re real, with real lives at stake. Someone’s life and well-being, their future and the future of their family is all at hanging in the balance. It’s a very serious undertaking and the evidence is seldom black and white. As lawyers, we’re given the task of selecting a jury we believe will be as unbiased as feasibly possible, ultimately using fairness and sound judgement to decide the outcome of a case.
There are no automatic exemptions or excuses from jury service in New York State. Everyone who is eligible must serve. You’re eligible to serve as a juror in New York if you are:
1) a United States citizen,
2) at least 18 years old, and
3) a resident of the county to which you are summoned to serve.
In addition, jurors must
4) be able to understand and communicate in the English
5) not have been convicted of a felony
Trials can last as little as 1–2 days. Those who are selected to serve on a jury are required to serve on only one trial. The judge informs the jurors how long the trial is expected to last. The jury fee is $40 per day. The fee is paid by the State or the employer depending on (1) the day of service and (2) the size of employer. For help figuring out how the rules apply to your individual circumstances, you can use the chart “Who Pays Your Jury Fee?”
If selected as a juror where the claimant has suffered serious injury from a car crash, construction accident, serious injury at work or on some other premise other than the claimants’ home, you need to understand the biases that exist and the tactics the insurance companies employ to discredit a case or the character of a claimant before you’ve even stepped into the courtroom.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. They’re some of the most profitable businesses that exist as part of our economy. They’re not my friend, they’re not your friend, once a claim occurs. You quickly become a number and in fact you may have already unfortunately experienced this for yourself.
As a member of the jury you should consider the impact of years of media exposure and power that have painted a picture that an injured person is somehow unjustly taking money from us “all” to scam the system. This message has permeated every conversation by jurors. The insurance companies have used this message to reap tremendous profits and to prevent those who are injured from receiving fair compensation for injuries covered by those who have violated safety rule. Those that violate safety rules are the ones who put us all at risk. If we don’t send a message to those that choose to violate safety rules that they should and will be held responsible, the situation will only worsen.
If you’re selected to serve on a jury trial in a civil case, do your very best to understand that the injuries sustained to the claimant and the serious accident they’ve suffered from, could happen to me, it could happen to you. We never know what’s around the corner. And because we as personal injury attorneys invest enormous amounts of time, effort, money, energy, preparing a case for trial, without guarantee of reimbursement or compensation of any kind, only bring a case to trial that has legitimate cause to be there.
Joe Stanley of Stanley Law and his entire team have decades of experience in serious personal injury cases including automobile accidents and have been working on behalf of clients across New York and Pennsylvania to help them get what they deserve. A serious personal injury is not a situation where you want to go it alone on. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an accident of any kind, please call us at 1-800-608-3333 or email usthrough our website where you can also describe your potential case. Your consultation is FREE.