Most personal injury cases settle and never go to trial. Trials are risky for both sides and can be very expensive. And it takes a long time to get to trial. So why would we want to be a trial law firm?
Insurance companies pay attention to which law firms take cases to trial and which law firms win at trial. We get better results for our clients because our threat of taking cases to trial is a real one for the insurance companies.
One of the most important parts of trial is jury selection, also called voir dire. It is the only time during the trial the lawyers get to talk with members of the jury. It is the only time we are able to ask questions to make sure potential jurors are the right fit for that particular trial and don’t hold any biases that would prevent them from being fair.
At Claggett & Sykes Law Firm, we are knowledgeable when it comes to personal injury trials in Reno, Nevada. Our lawyers have spent years practicing jury selection, have done it for real, and routinely teach other lawyers across the country how to conduct jury selection. In this article, we will explain the jury selection process and what we think makes a good juror for these types of cases.
The basics of jury selection in Reno
If you have ever been called for jury duty, you may already know that the starting jury pool is usually pretty big.
Individuals can be called to serve on a jury in Reno if they:
- Are 18 years or older
- Are a United States citizen
- Are a resident of Reno
- Do not have any felony convictions, or their civil rights have been restored
- Can read, write, and understand English
Exemptions from serving as a juror include the following:
- Between 65-70 years of age (you can file for an age exemption)
- A member of the Legislature (while the Legislature is in session)
- A police officer
- A State Fire marshal
- Incapacitated by injury or illness
When individuals are selected for a jury pool, they are required to meet at a specific location. They are then required to answer questions, which help the judge determine which jurors will be unbiased and fair throughout the court hearing.
Eventually, the giant pool is whittled down to about 60 to 100 folks, depending on the case. Once this happens, both the plaintiff’s attorney (that would be us) and the defense attorney get a chance to question these potential jurors.
What types of questions are asked when selecting a jury for a personal injury case?
When a lawyer questions the potential jurors, they will have the chance to learn about the possible jurors’ beliefs, life experiences, attitudes, interests, and biases. It is important that the lawyers pay close attention because the last thing they want is for any biases to come out during the trial.
There are a variety of questions that lawyers may ask when selecting a jury for a personal injury case. Most of the questions have a goal of removing individuals with biases. Some of the questions may include:
- Have you ever been sick or injured before?
- Have you had a bad experience with a lawyer before?
- Have you ever worked at an insurance company?
- Has anyone in your family worked at an insurance company before?
- Have you ever had to file a personal injury claim?
- Has anyone in your family ever filed a personal injury claim?
- Do you know anyone involved in this case?
If a potential juror answers yes to these questions, there will be additional follow-up questions. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, there may be questions about where your accident occurred and about motor vehicle drivers in general.
Personal questions are also not uncommon during jury selection. These types of questions can help indicate what type of interests the individual has as well as if they have any type of biases.
Striking a juror for cause and peremptory challenges
Once there’s a final pool of jurors, the attorneys get a chance to “strike,” or remove, a certain number of jurors from that pool for cause. Both sides get four peremptory challenges (plus one additional challenge per every two alternate jurors). Peremptory challenges can be used for any non-discriminatory reason.
In addition to the peremptory strikes, the attorneys may move to strike a potential juror for cause. The lawyer will have to argue to the judge the reason for striking the juror, and usually the lawyers argue that the potential juror possesses a bias that would prevent them from being impartial during trial.
The importance of choosing a jury for a personal injury case
Choosing the right jury makes a huge difference in the outcome of a case. The goal is to find individuals who are impartial, and that can be challenging to do.
Claggett & Sykes understands just how critical this portion of the trial process is. Typically, before we take a case to trial, we do at least a dozen focus groups where we present information like we would to a jury. In this way, we learn what the best way to present evidence at your trial will be. It also gives us an idea about how different folks may react to and interpret facts and data based on their own experiences as well as what is presented to them. It’s all part of our process for taking cases to trial for our clients.
The jury selection process is one of the most important parts of a trial. Therefore, it is crucial that your personal injury attorney knows how to select a jury if your case goes to court. Claggett & Sykes Law Firm is educated and experienced on the questions to ask when selecting jurors. Call our Reno office or submit our contact form at your earliest convenience. Our team will listen to the details of your case and advise you on your best next steps.
We are not simply a personal injury firm. We are trial lawyers who take on catastrophic injury, brain injury, and wrongful death cases. These cases are different than most personal injury cases and the needs of these cases cannot be met by law firms that take on just any case.
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