Florida Court Discusses Juror Bias in a Car Accident Case

One of the core tenets of the American legal system is the right to have issues resolved by an impartial jury. As such, prior to a trial, attorneys for all parties will engage in a process through which they attempt to determine if any jurors harbor implicit or explicit biases that would prevent them from resolving factual issues impartially. If a court denies a party’s request to strike a biased juror, it may constitute grounds for having a verdict overturned, as demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion issued in a car accident case. If you suffered harm in a car crash, you have the right to seek damages, and you should meet with a dedicated Florida car accident lawyer regarding what compensation you may be able to recover.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was driving on a Florida highway when she was struck by the defendant. She suffered injuries to her neck and back in the collision, which required extensive treatment. As such, she filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant. The case proceeded to trial, and during the process of jury selection, the plaintiff’s attorney moved to exclude a juror because he stated he sympathized with defendants in car crash cases, believed defendants are treated unfairly, and had issues with insurance companies. Her motion was denied, and she later used a peremptory challenge to strike him but was ultimately forced to accept him as an objectionable juror. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Evaluating Juror Bias

In assessing a juror’s competency, a court will evaluate whether the juror can set aside any prejudice or bias and issue a verdict solely on the instructions on the law provided by the court and the evidence presented by the parties. Although courts have significant leeway in determining a juror’s competency, if any reasonable doubt exists as to whether a juror’s state of mind is impartial, that juror must be excused for cause.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the juror in question’s answers to the plaintiff’s counsel’s inquiries called into question his competency. The court explained that an evaluation of a juror’s ability to render a verdict solely on the law and evidence presented must take into account every question posed to and every answer received from the juror.

The court noted that the juror expressly stated that his prior experience made it difficult for him to maintain an impartial state of mind in his evaluation of the facts and evidence of the case. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in refusing to excuse the juror, vacated the verdict, and remanded the matter for a new trial.

Meet with an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents can cause permanent damages, and people injured in collisions have the right to have their claims heard by unbiased jurors. If you sustained damages due to an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you could be owed compensation, and it is advisable to speak to an attorney. The experienced Florida car accident lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can inform you of your options for seeking redress and help you to pursue your desired outcome. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-283-7442 to set up a consultation.

 

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