After you have completed “Discovery,” you will file a document with the court entitled “Note of Issue.” This document advises the Clerk of the Court that you are ready for trial. Additionally, you will file a “Jury Demand” which effectively asks the Court for permission to have a Trial by Jury.
Under certain limited circumstances, you may prefer to have a Trial by a judge (also know as a “Bench Trial”). In Staten Island, if you have a case that is a “soft tissue injury,” you may be in a better position to have a Trial by judge (versus Jury). The reason is that Staten Island jurors do not like cases where the injuries are not fractures, surgeries, scars, etc. They look unfavorably on cases where plaintiffs suffer sprains, strains, etc.
Another example of a case that Staten Island jurors do not like are when a homeowner is being sued for a defect on his or her property (e.g., broken sidewalk, slip on ice, etc). The reason is obvious: more than half of all people living on Staten Island are owners of their own home.
If you have a serious injury, a Jury Trial may be best for you. Jurors from Staten Island want to see illustrations, diagrams, video presentations, photographs, etc. They want to be entertained. I believe that they are otherwise bored with the process and are thinking about their “Life after Jury Duty.” They have children on their minds, their jobs, and are interested in finishing jury duty as soon as possible. It is best to keep them awake and to let them know that your client has suffered a serious injury due to the negligence of another person.
Before you are ready for trial (and if the facts allow it), your lawyer should make a “Motion for Summary Judgement,” an application to the Court to find one hundred percent in your favor. For example, if your car was struck in the back of your car by another vehicle, then that vehicle should be found to be 100 percent responsible for the accident. Once this is done, the only remaining issue is generally 1) were your injuries related to the defendant’s negligence and 2) how much money should you receive to compensate you for your injury.
All persons are usually entitled to a Jury Trial, regardless of the type of accident, age of injured person, or nationality of that person. When selecting your jurors, your lawyer should take into account factors that would benefit your version of the accident. If you are a city worker that was injured by a speeding vehicle as you walked on a well know busy street, you should try to choose older, a more mature person who has a drivers license and has been working and supporting a family (versus a young driver who may be inclined to speeding and does not have a family to support).
Contact Charles DeStefano, a well known accident lawyer in Staten Island who has over 26 years experience helping accident victims.