Have you been injured due to a car accident, truck accident, or medical malpractice? If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you may be wondering about the details of a personal injury case once it goes to court. Who will have an ultimate say in the outcome? Will the judge or the jury provide impartial oversight of your case and ultimately make the final ruling?

Many cases will differ on who will oversee in court. Judges and juries approach evidence, witnesses, etc., with differing viewpoints. A judge will view a case with the legal knowledge and understanding of the law. At Strickland and Kendall, LLC, our experienced personal injury lawyers look at the facts surrounding your case to determine which route would provide a more favorable outcome.

Note: a trial by judge when there is no jury is also called a “bench trial.” A jury is more easily swayed by the emotion of a case. Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between the two.

What Are the Differences Between Judge vs Jury in a Personal Injury Case?

In a personal injury case, the roles of a judge and a jury are distinct, and their functions within the legal process differ. Here are the key differences between a judge and a jury in a personal injury case:

  • Judge:
    • Role: The judge is a legal professional who presides over the court proceedings.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Interpreting and applying the law.
      • Ruling on legal issues and motions presented by both parties.
      • Providing legal instructions to the jury regarding the applicable laws.
      • Determining the admissibility of evidence.
      • Managing the overall trial process and ensuring it adheres to legal procedures.
  • Jury:
    • Role: The jury is a group of impartial individuals selected to assess the facts presented during the trial and make decisions based on those facts.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Listening to the evidence and arguments presented by both parties.
      • Weighing the credibility of witnesses.
      • Determining the facts of the case.
      • Applying the law as instructed by the judge to reach a verdict.
      • Deciding liability and, if applicable, awarding damages.
  • Decision-Making:
    • Judge: The judge makes legal decisions, interprets the law, and ensures that the trial process follows proper legal procedures. The judge does not typically determine the facts of the case or assign liability.
    • Jury: The jury assesses the evidence, determines the facts, and applies the law as instructed by the judge to reach a verdict. The jury decides on liability and, if applicable, the amount of damages to be awarded.
  • Composition:
    • Judge: There is only one judge presiding over the case.
    • Jury: The jury is usually composed of a group of individuals (jurors) chosen from the community.

In personal injury cases, the judge and jury work together to ensure a fair and impartial resolution. The judge handles legal matters and ensures that the trial follows proper procedures, while the jury plays a crucial role in determining the factual aspects of the case and reaching a verdict based on the evidence presented.

When it comes to fighting for the maximum compensation you deserve after an injury, most personal injury firms want to take the easy way out: settling for less than you’re owed. But Strickland and Kendall, LLC, are different. They’re one of the few firms who aren’t afraid to go the distance and push your case to trial, if that’s what it takes to secure the full amount you deserve.

While other firms settle for quick wins, Strickland and Kendall are relentless in their pursuit of justice. They’ll meticulously prepare your case, gather evidence, and fight tooth and nail in the courtroom to ensure you receive the maximum possible compensation for your pain, suffering, and lost wages.

Bench Trials: How Does a Judge Oversee a Personal Injury Case?

When a judge presides over a case, their role is two-fold. First, they will determine whether the evidence provided should be admitted. Second, they will be responsible for determining whether the provided witnesses are credible. Both are crucial to the outcome of any personal injury case.

A bench trial is usually the best course when a case is saturated in legal jargon and requires an in-depth knowledge of the law. As previously mentioned, in a bench trial, there is no jury. The judge is responsible for both overseeing and making judgments on the case. The judge will hear from both the plaintiff and the defendant and then make a ruling based on the evidence and testimonies.

A bench trial will usually conclude faster than a jury trial because of a judge’s familiarity with legal proceedings. As an impartial individual, the judge decides what happened in a case. This eliminates the need to select individual members of a jury, quickening the process.

Jury Trials: How Does a Jury Oversee a Personal Injury Case?

If you request a jury to preside, you will have six to twelve jurors to hear and make the final ruling on your case. A jury is made up of citizens who are your peers and can come from many different backgrounds and vocations. They are not lawyers and do not have the same in-depth knowledge of the law as a judge. However, they are responsible for hearing the facts involved in the case and deciding based on those facts.

Because a personal injury case is a civil case and involves more emotional appeals, it can tend to be less complicated and easier for a jury to understand. A jury can tend to be more easily swayed than a judge when appealing to emotion and empathy in a case.

A personal injury trial by jury is most commonly pursued if the end goal is compensation for injuries and damages. The jurors are not political figures up for re-election and will not be swayed by the favor their decision grants them. They tend to view corporations and individuals differently, being empathetic towards individuals and holding companies to greater expectations. This can work in your favor when seeking better settlements from insurance companies.

Although a jury trial does not include a judge presiding over a case, a judge will give the jury instructions for the proceedings, leaving room for an appeal if the jury’s ruling is unfair.

Personal Injury Trial by Jury: Pros and Cons

Pros of a Personal Injury Trial by Jury

A personal injury trial by jury offers the advantage of diverse perspectives, as juries are composed of individuals from varied backgrounds, contributing to a comprehensive evaluation of the case. The jury, often a representation of the community, enhances the perception of justice and impartial decision-making. Their fact-finding role allows for a thorough examination of evidence and witness testimonies. The involvement of citizens in the legal process fosters public trust, as individuals believe their peers are contributing to fair outcomes.

Cons of a Personal Injury Trial by Jury

Conversely, personal injury trials by jury present challenges due to jurors’ potential lack of legal expertise, making it difficult to comprehend complex legal concepts and evidence. Emotions, biases, and sympathy may influence jurors, compromising their ability to make wholly objective decisions. The potential for inconsistent verdicts based on the composition of different juries poses a drawback. Jury trials can be time-consuming and expensive, leading to longer proceedings and increased costs. Additionally, the susceptibility of jurors to the persuasive skills of attorneys may impact their decisions, potentially undermining the objectivity of the trial.

Personal Injury Trial by Judge: Pros and Cons

Pros of a Personal Injury Trial by Judge

Opting for a personal injury trial by judge offers the advantage of having legal professionals with expertise in personal injury law make decisions. Judges are trained to understand complex legal concepts, ensuring a thorough and accurate assessment of the case. Their impartiality is grounded in legal knowledge, reducing the potential influence of emotions or biases. A trial by judge often results in a more streamlined and efficient process, as legal rulings are made promptly without the need for lengthy jury deliberations. This can lead to cost savings and a more predictable timeline for the resolution of the case.

Cons of a Personal Injury Trial by Judge

However, personal injury trials by judge may have downsides. The absence of diverse perspectives from community members can be a drawback, potentially impacting the perceived fairness of the trial. Judges, while impartial, are not immune to personal biases, and their legal rulings may still be subject to individual interpretation. The fact-finding process may lack the collective input that a jury provides, potentially affecting the comprehensiveness of the decision. The absence of a jury may also diminish the sense of community representation in the legal process, raising concerns about public trust.

Trial by Judge or Jury?

Presenting your case before a judge or jury can involve pros and cons based on evidence, witnesses, etc. It is best to seek legal advice from experienced personal injury attorneys before you make your final decision.

At the law firm of Strickland and Kendall, LLC, we have an expert team of experienced attorneys in several types of personal injury cases, such as auto accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability. Call us today for your free consultation: 334-269-3230.