In Georgia, if your personal injury claim goes to court the case will be decided by a jury. Juries are made up of regular citizens who are selected at random from the population. These citizens may come with all kinds of prejudice, and it can affect the outcome of your case.
Prejudice doesn’t usually work the way people think it does—at least not in the courtroom. In the news, for example, we hear mostly about racism and sexism. These prejudices are very real, but they are not usually factors in personal injury verdicts. This is because your lawyer has a chance to screen potential jurors before the trial, in a process called voir dire. It’s relatively easy for your lawyer to screen out someone who would discriminate against you on the basis of race or gender.
Other prejudices are very common, however. In personal injury cases the biggest prejudices we see are based on:
- Your personality. If jurors like you they tend to have more sympathy, and are likely to award you more money.
- Context of your injury. If your accident happened under circumstances that make you look bad, such as while committing a crime or drinking at a bar, the jury is likely to be prejudiced against you.
- How visible your injury is. Juries tend to give more money when they can clearly see how bad an injury is, and less money when the injury is invisible or hard to understand.
These prejudices can affect any case including a car accident, slip and fall, nursing home abuse or any other kind of injury.
How do personal injury lawyers deal with prejudice?
None of these forms of prejudice are fair, but your lawyer can help you minimize the amount of prejudice you face. They do this several ways:
- Screening out the most prejudiced jurors in a process called voir dire
- Prepping you before trial so you make a good impression on the jury
- Bringing in medical experts so jurors understand your injury
- Showing the impact of the injury on your life, such as on your kids, so that jurors can see the entire picture
Remember, under the law you have a right to a financial recovery. But the exact amount you get will depend on the jury and how they perceive you, and two people with the same injury can get very different amount depending on how the jury perceives them. A good lawyer will not only help you overcome the bias of the jury where needed, they will also advise you on whether it’s worth facing a jury at all. If your lawyer believes the jury won’t take your injury seriously, or if they believe that the insurance company’s lawyers will make you look back, they may advise you to take a settlement instead of going to court.
Have you been involved in an accident? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.