You come home from work on a Tuesday evening, retrieve the mail from the box, head into your home, and toss the mail on the kitchen table. A few hours later, you pick up the envelopes (bill, bill, bill, what’s this?). This, is a letter from your local judiciary, COMMANDING you to be at a certain place, on a certain date, at a certain time (or to make yourself available during a certain time period!). Not exactly a friendly, “how ya do’in” from the County Clerk. We, at Roth & Associates, understand being a juror is not the ideal way to spend a day, but we want you to know how much we appreciate you exercising your civil duty. We would like to tell you what being a civil juror means, as well as letting you in on a few secrets no one in the courtroom will tell you.
When you are called upon to be the decider in a civil case, you will be hearing cases that revolve around non-criminal, non-juvenile, and non-family (think divorces) issues. Civil cases range from personal injury automobile wrecks to property disputes. The outcome, almost always, will be decided in a money judgment. That is, how much money is the Plaintiff entitled to based on the law and facts presented to you by the attorneys, witnesses, and experts. By law, there are certain details of every civil case the jury is not allowed to be told by the attorneys, witnesses, and experts; but, 99 out of 100 times is important to the juror’s decision.
First, the Defendant in the case, especially if it is a business, or it involves a car wreck, has insurance. This means, every cent- you as the juror- award the Plaintiff does not come from the Defendant, but from the Defendant’s insurance company. Second, the Defendant did not hire his/her attorney. The Defendant’s insurance company hired the Defendant’s attorney. Third, there is no penalty against the Defendant or the Defendant’s insurance company when they do not pay legitimate claims (Texas only). Lastly, before the Plaintiff can take possession of the money you, as the juror, awarded him/her, he/she must first pay all medical expenses he/she incurred as a result of the harm caused by the Defendant (typically pertains to personal injury cases).
That all sounds like pretty relevant information; information, which could better, help you, as the juror, come to a well-informed decision, doesn’t it? So the next time you are COMMANDED or SUMMONED to fulfill your duty in a civil case, please keep those secrets in mind.