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Why insurance companies insist on Jury Trials for Personal Injury Cases (Ontario)

Personal Injury Lawyer Brian Goldfinger drew inspiration for the proceeding entry of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog from Nick, famous YouTube Star of wildly entertaining, and super high quality Pokemon GO! channel; Trainer Tips. Check out his channel if you haven’t already.

Shout out to Nick for all of the hard work he does uploading daily videos to his channel. The guy doesn’t mail in his entries. The production quality on his YouTube channel is top notch. While his channel deals with the game Pokemon GO!, he also covers such topics as food, travel and general life tips.

Nick has raised thousands of dollars for tsunami relief in Japan through his channel and has entertained/educated, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. He has close to 600,000 subscribers for a Pokemon GO! channel which is remarkable, even though he believes that his numbers are going down (through no fault of his own…that’s on Niantic!)

In addition, the makers of Pokemon GO! (Niantic) have been rather lame with respect to updating the game, and failing to release new content (Generation Two). This has resulted in a slow down of game play, and a slow down in interest in the game itself. But Nick is still finding ways to entertain daily, which is a testament to his creativity, positivity, perseverance, and talent. Love it!

So, how does Nick’s YouTube channel relate to personal injury law in Ontario Canada? Good question!

Recently, Nick had to go in for Jury Duty Selection at a downtown Courthouse. He was dismissed. You can check out Nick’s great take on Jury Duty at the 4:57 mark of his YouTube Video. 

Nick’s take on Jury Duty, and going through the process is very educational, and is frankly spot on. On one had, it’s a great civic duty. On the other hand, it sucks!

Nick’s not a lawyer, but he summarized what everyone picked for jury duty is thinking, and what they’re going through when they get selected. You actually see it in the lead up to his Vlog. The traffic en route to an unfamiliar Courthouse. The search for a new food spot for lunch. The isolation from your friends and family. The schedule of the Court which you’re not used to. The loss of personal freedom because you’re on the Court’s schedule.

You have to take time off work and lose out of wages (unless the laws of your Province require that your wages get supplemented). You have to interrupt your schedule/routine to go to a crowded Court House where you may, or may not, have to pay for expensive parking. You have to endure traffic you may not be accustomed to. You’re sequestered from the rest of the world to be questioned by a bunch of lawyers about your education, training and experience to unearth any biases you may, or may not have. Then, there’s the waiting. There’s A LOT of waiting around a barren Courthouse. Your favourite lunch spots are miles away because you’re stuck at the Courthouse. You don’t have the freedom to pack up and leave when you want. It’s like your in elementary school again, waiting for that recess or lunch bell to go. It’s not fun for a lot of jurors who don’t want to be there.

What Nick was talking about in his video was getting selected for a criminal trial. But not every case heard before a jury is a criminal case, like a murder trial you’d see on Law & Order. TV makes trials seem cool, exciting and sexy.

The reality is that most trials are BORING. It’s not like TV at all.

Most personal injury trials can be incredibly boring, and very complex.

The biggest challenge of a Plaintiff Personal Injury Lawyer is not only trying to convey the injured accident victim’s case, but also trying to keep the jury engaged. The more engaged the jury, the greater chance that your theory of the case is sinking in.

Insurance companies in Ontario for personal injury cases almost ALWAYS insist that cases be tried by a jury. Why? Because they know that the people who are sitting on the jury will probably HATE the fact that they’ve been selected, and now have to listen to a personal injury case, instead of having to sit on a more appealing criminal case (murder, assault, etc).

Listening all day to complicated medico-legal evidence, along with a Plaintiff telling their story about how their neck, back and shoulders hurt isn’t fun. 0001r_Goldfinger-200x300

This has been recognized by the Court. Check out what the Honourable Justice Myers had to say about jury trials in car accident cases in Mandel v. Fakhim, 2016 ONSC 6538:

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, the fact is that the jury system is still the law of the land…

There is no way to understand the jury’s verdict other than…

It is important to remember that in this case one of the parties selected a trial by jury.  Regardless of the outcome of the case, an inconsistency between the judge’s determination on the threshold motion and the jury’s determination of general damages can have the effect of emasculating the right to a jury trial.

You don’t have to read between the lines to understand what the Judge is saying. Essentially, insurers are betting that you will be UPSET and BORED to be selected to hear a jury case in a personal injury claim. In particular, a chronic pain case. If a Jury is upset to be on jury duty, they aren’t going to support the Plaintiff’s claim. It’s the Plaintiff’s fault they’re there in the first place. They brought the claim to begin with.

Gaining the sympathy and empathy of a jury in a chronic pain case is possible, but it’s no easy task. Tearing down the castle, and showing the faults in one’s case is an easier task than building it up. And given the complexity of car accident law and the lack of understanding of the laws of damages by a Jury, it’s easy for a Jury to side with a Defendant in order to shut out the at fault accident victim. Nobody wants to hear about neck, back and shoulder pain all day, every day for 12+ days….

Case in point: Did you know there’s a $36,920 deductible for all car accident cases in Ontario? Probably not.

No lawyer can mention this $36,920 deductible for car accident claims to a jury at trial! The law says this will tarnish their decision, and a mistrial will be declared. So, if a Jury in Ontario thinks that they’re doing good by a Plaintiff by awarding him/her $35,000 in damages; after the deductible is applied post verdict, that $35,000 in damages is really ZERO! Food for thought the next time you get jury duty in Ontario for a personal injury case.

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