What Juries Probably Don’t Know
Juries in Ontario are usually used in criminal trials, however, they can be used to support personal injury trials, as they make important decisions based on facts and evidence they are provided at a trial, influencing the outcome of a case.
To understand what juries are not allowed to know, first you must understand what a jury is. In car accident cases, 6 citizens are randomly selected from the community, and swear in court that they will listen to all of the evidence and decide whether the Crown has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. (i.e. they will decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.)
Car accident injury law in Ontario allows for a jury trial if either the plaintiff or the defendant’s insurance company requests one. Insurance companies, on average, request a jury trial 99% of the time, because juries usually award a lower settlement than judges.
Every year, approximately 180,000 Ontarians are selected for jury duty from the jury roll, which is established the previous year. Once a jury is selected, jurors are sworn in and sat in the jury box for the jury trial. Jurors must swear to listen fairly and impartially to both sides of the case and must reach a verdict based solely on evidence.
Jurors are not allowed to do the following:
- Discuss the case with anyone, aside from another juror
- Follow media reports about the case, or look up any details
- Disclose information from jury discussions, even after a trial has ended
Now, here’s the information that is not disclosed to juries:
- The jury is not aware of the fact that the defendant is actually represented by their insurance company, which can get confusing when they hear the defendant’s name used in court.
- A certain sum must be deducted if a jury awards a motor vehicle accident plaintiff damages for pain and suffering, according to provincial legislation. This sum is inflation-adjusted.
- The insured Defendant isn’t the one making the decisions about the lawsuit – it’s basically entirely up to their insurance company to make the decisions. Jurors also aren’t allowed to know if an insurance company will be paying for the verdict.
- Jurors will not be punished for reaching a “wrong” decision, such as supporting and acquitting a defendant despite being shown proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.