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September 30, 2021 marks Canada’s first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. Better late then never?

As a personal injury lawyer, the big theme in the title of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is the word “Truth“.

We are told as children, adults and throughout law school the importance of telling the truth; along with the importance of seeking out the truth.

But the truth can mean different things to different people.

How so?

There are two types of truths.

There are objective truths. These are facts or findings which nobody can deny or contradict.

Mathematics such as arithmetic and trigonometry are objective truths.

The time of day is an objective truth.

The earth being round (though not to Kyrie Irving); the planets orbit the sun, the chemical formula of water being H2O. These scientific truths are objective.

If you seek to discredit these objective truths, you will either be wrong; or appear as delusional. Or perhaps you’re a savant who has stumbled onto a new way of thinking which breaks the barriers or speed, sound and time; in which case we have all got a lot more learning to do 🙂

I trust you understand where I’m going with objective truths.

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Car accident insurers love jury trials.  How do I know this? Because in 99% of the car accident cases I have seen, Jury Notices are filed by the Defendant Insurer. If car insurers didn’t LOVE juries, they wouldn’t file jury notices so often.

What explains the car insurance industry’s affection of Jury Trials?

For starters, Juries are unpredictable. You have no idea if they will favour a Plaintiff, or a Defendant.

Is it because Jurors aren’t paid for their time and will be irritated that they have to miss work without pay sitting on a Jury? That feeling of irritation for being there will weigh negatively against a Plaintiff who brought the claim in the first place.

Is it because Jurors have to pay for parking (at select Courthouses) and gas to get to the Courthouse without getting compensated for their out of pocket expenses? That would weigh negatively against a Plaintiff as well.

Is it because instead of hearing an interesting case like you would see on television (murder, racketeering, drugs); instead they have to hear a car accident case where the main issue in dispute isn’t liability, but rather pain to a Plaintiff’s head, neck, back and shoulders which can get boring and stale pretty quickly. That doesn’t sound like a fun trial to hear at all, particularly if it goes on for a long time. There’s another factor which weighs negatively against a Plaintiff.

In all of these scenarios, a Juror doesn’t know which party filed the Jury Notice. As a result they look at the Plaintiff with extreme distain knowing that it was the Plaintiff’s case has caused them to sit on a Jury in the first place. Essentially, the Plaintiff is seen as wasting the Juror’s time and losing the Juror money when all along the Plaintiff never filed the Jury notice to begin with.

This is the harsh reality of civil jury trials in car accident cases in Ontario. But that reality gets even more harsh.

The will of then Jury is suppressed when awarding damages in a personal injury case.  On top of that, Jurors are left in the dark for car accident cases. 

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For the 1% of personal injury cases which go to trial, the majority of those cases are tried by a Judge with a Jury.

Insurance companies automatically file Jury Notices to accompany their Statements of Defence because they know that jurors don’t like sitting through long personal injury cases. A disengaged and disgruntled juror will be less likely to side with the Plaintiff. A Judge sitting alone is trained, well versed and PAID to listen carefully to the facts. Jurors are not trained, not well versed and certainly not well paid to sit around for weeks listening to evidence. In some cases, the cost of parking, snacks and meals will outweigh the cost of the Juror’s daily stipend. Compounding the anger of a juror is the fact that many of them are employed and have to miss time from work without getting paid themselves to engage in jury duty. Nobody wins.

Jurors want to sit in on “cool trials“. What’s a “cool trial“. Think of a high profile murder case. That would be “cool” to sit in on. Or how about a violent assault, drug trafficking charge, or something involving organized crime? Anything out of a TV or movie plot would satisfy a juror’s appetite. Unfortunately, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and long term disability disputes don’t make very interesting screen plays.

Plaintiff personal injury lawyers know this. Plaintiffs themselves often do not. It’s hard for a Plaintiff to put him or herself in the position of a Judge or Jury hearing their own case. In the Plaintiff’s own mind: What else could be more important or more interesting than sitting through a 2-4 week trial to hear all about my injuries, disability and how the insurance company screwed me?

What really goes on in a juror’s mind is “who cares about this person; and; get me outta here so I can go back to my normal daily routine.Continue reading →

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