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JURY TRIALS

Most cases are settled for fair compensation outside of court and without the need for a trial.  However, when we believe insurance companies are not treating people fairly, sometimes a trial is necessary to ensure a fair result for the plaintiff.

Trials proceed in one of two ways: 

1) judge alone; or

2) a judge sitting with a jury. 

It is not uncommon for the insurance company defending the claim to choose to have a jury decide the outcome of a trial instead of a judge. We believe insurance companies do this because they think members of the jury will award less financial compensation to someone who is injured.  In our experience, insurance companies may believe jurors will pre-judge claims or make decisions based on unfair prejudices or biases.  In our practice we have seen cases where insurance companies choose juries to decide cases where the people seeking fair compensation at trial are:

  • People who have been dealt a bad hand in life, and went through hardships before they were injured;

  • People who have a complicated medical history;

  • People who have struggled with substance abuse or addiction;

  • People who have been out of the workforce for long periods of time;

  • People who are hurt in car crashes where there is not much damage to the vehicles;

  • People who make a good income so they don’t “need” the money, even though they are hurt; and

  • People who post frequently on social media.

Some courts and commentators have stated that insurance companies do this because they think jurors will award these people less than fair compensation.  The Court cautioned as follows in an Ontario personal injury case  regarding juries and insurance companies:

 

While jury trials in civil cases seem to exist in Ontario solely to keep damages awards low in the interest of insurance companies, rather than to facilitate injured parties being judged by their peers…

In our experience, jurors are intelligent, capable and informed members of the public who we trust to make fair decisions, and not to be swayed by prejudices.  Members of the jury are taking time out of their busy lives to learn about your case and we recognize they are well situated to hear the facts of your case, learn about your losses, and make a fair decision.  Sitting on a jury is an important and critical service to our justice system.

We work to meaningfully resolve your claim without the need for a trial.  In the event the case goes to trial before a jury, we trust that when the jurors in the courtroom hear the evidence they will make their decisions based on the facts specific to you and your case, and will not make their decisions based on prejudices.

[1] See John C Bouck, Civil Jury Trials – Assessing Non-Pecuniary Damages – Civil Jury Reform, 2002 81-3 Canadian Bar Review 493, 2002 CanLIIDocs 81; Mandel v Fakhim, 2016 ONSC 6538.
[2] See note 1.
[3] Mandel v Fakhim, 2016 ONSC 6538.
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