Recently, in the Circuit Court of Knott County, Kentucky, a jury awarded an estate of a man who was killed after he was struck by a motor vehicle, $2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $2 million in punitive damages. An appeal was taken and the appellate court reversed the punitive damages and said that the presence of a juror whose father had been involved in a fatal car accident, did not taint the jury verdict. That is why sometimes the winning of a car accident trial can be won or lost at the outset; at the beginning when you are picking the jury. A good Louisville car accident lawyer will know what kind of juror would make the best juror for your car accident case.
In the above case, the accident occurred on November 2, 2004. A trailer overturned and spilled its cargo of coal across a dark unlit portion of Kentucky State Road 80. After 2 hours of deliberation, on December 5, 2007, the jury awarded to the plaintiff its decision. (Fuel Transport v. Gibson, 2009 WL 3047578 (Ky.App.))
Fuel Transportation argued that a juror concealed the fact that her father had been killed in an automobile accident. Fuel Transportation claimed that they only discovered this in a post trial interview. And had this information been revealed during voir dire, Fuel Transportation argued the juror would have either been struck for cause or they would have used a preemptory strike to remove her from the panel.
The appeals court went on to explain that voir dire is the means by which a party can “ascertain whether a cause for challenge exists, or whether it is expedient to exercise the right of peremptory challenge by determining whether a juror has the necessary qualifications, has prejudged a case, or is free from prejudice or bias.” Id. Merely having a similar background is not enough to justify excusing a juror for cause. Instead, bias or impartiality must be proven by the party alleging such and will not be presumed. Further, the party alleging bias must demonstrate that a juror failed to answer honestly a material question on voir dire and that the correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause. In this case, the attorneys did not ask the right question. While they did ask the jurors if they had ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident, they failed to ask the jurors if any family member had been in such an accident. Id. Also, she did not sign the verdict sheet awarding the compensatory damages, so the appeals court did not see how her presence on the jury tainted the verdict in any way. That is why it is important to have a good Louisville car accident lawyer fighting for your rights.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville car accident matter, please call and speak to a Louisville car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are injured…Ask Andrew!!!