Should You Request a Jury Trial for Your Civil Lawsuit?
Many people aren’t aware that they can have a jury for their personal injury lawsuit. Under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1.430, either side can request a jury trial. However, you can also ask for a bench trial in which the judge will decide whether the defendant is legally responsible for your injuries.
Many people assume that injured victims should opt for a jury trial because jurors will be more sympathetic to their story. However, is this always true? Are there situations where it makes better sense to request a bench trial? In this post, we run through some factors you should consider.
How Fast Do You Want the Trial to Proceed?
Generally, a bench trial is faster than a jury trial. You can dispense with the jury selection process, which can easily take a full day. Also, judges are less swayed by theatrics, which means lawyers can make leaner presentations. Bench trials have a reputation for being less formal, which can speed things along.
Because a judge knows the rules of evidence, he or she knows what to exclude because it is unfairly prejudicial. For this reason, there is no need to argue about what instructions to give the jury to disregard improper evidence.
Nevertheless, the difference is speed is not pronounced, so you probably should not base your decision on a jury or bench trial solely on this consideration.
Is Your Case Enormously Complicated?
Most personal injury cases are not. However, if your case involves complicated technological discussions or questions of science, then a jury might not be able to follow along. A judge can more easily understand the issues in dispute and might be able to render a fairer verdict than jurors.
Are You Suing a Corporation?
Many people assume that jurors are less sympathetic to faceless, giant corporations than a judge might be. There are several reasons for this. For one, the jury probably assumes the company has enough money to pay you compensation and they might simply decide the case against the corporation on that basis. Also, many people have had negative interactions with corporations, so they might be biased going into the trial.
Are You Sympathetic Victim?
Jurors are often swayed by emotion, judges less so. A juror might decide a case in your favor because they can see that you or a loved one is seriously injured. It is quite natural to be so overcome with emotion that a juror wants someone to pay for the injury, even if the defendant is not legally to blame.
In other cases, you might not be sympathetic, especially if you have a criminal history or if you are partially to blame for the accident. You might opt for a bench trial in that situation.
Discuss Your Options with a Daytona Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
There is no hard-and-fast rule about when to request a bench or jury trial. At Bundza & Rodriguez in Daytona Beach, you can rely on our experience to advise you about which path is best for you.
If you have questions, you can talk with one of our personal injury lawyers. Please call 386-252-5170 or send us a message online.