The Role Of The Judge In A Personal Injury Case
There are numerous individuals involved in a personal injury case including the plaintiff who alleges a harm or injury was caused and now seeks damages, the defendant who is being sued as the person legally responsible for the accident, the lawyers who represent the respective parties, and the judge or jury who examines the evidence to decide the questions of liability by a preponderance of the evidence.1
Judge Verses Jury Trials
A personal injury case can be decided by a trial judge which is referred to as a bench trial or by a jury. Deciding between whether a case will be tried before a judge or jury depends on several factors including requests made by the parties, the amount in controversy, the nature of the injury, the jurisdiction of the court, or the background of the parties.
In a bench trial, where there is no jury, the judge must determine both questions of law and questions of fact.2 In a jury trial, the judge only decides question of law. The judge’s primary role in deciding questions of law is threefold: to determine any issues regarding the application or interpretation of a law, any issue regarding what the relevant law is or which law is relevant if there are two or more mutually exclusive laws, or an issue of fact that is reserved for judges.3 The judge’s role with regards to questions of fact or when functioning as the trier of fact (only arising in a bench trial) revolves around weighing the strength of evidence and credibility of witnesses.4
In both a bench trial and jury trial, the judge is generally presiding over the courtroom. In a trial by jury, there will be more of an emphasis on listening to, sustaining, or overruling objections while trying to maintain an orderly trial, but in a bench trial the judge equally tries to maintain order and impartiality, but in the end the judge will be the one reaching a decision in the absence of a formal period for instruction, deliberation, and verdict as recognized in a jury trial.5
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have been harmed by another person or entity and now seek damages to recover from your losses, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.