McKinney Dog Bite Trials

In McKinney and throughout the State of Texas, either side can demand a jury trial, pay a $30 jury fee and get a jury trial as opposed to a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial in which a judge makes the findings of fact and the conclusion as well. In a jury trial, the jury is supposed to find the facts and the judge applies the law to the facts, takes the verdict, and turns it into a judgment.

Collin County has a reputation as a conservative area and, because of that, insurance companies are more apt to ask for a jury trial and to pay the jury fee than they are in some other counties. There are situations in which a plaintiff will want a bench trial, and there are situations in which they would want a jury trial. Ultimately, either side can force the issue and demand a jury.

However, just because a jury trial has been requested does not mean that the case will get to a jury trial. A number of things can come up and get in the way. Defense strategy often dictates trying to get a case dismissed prior to the jury trial by way of filing a motion for summary judgment.

This often happens in situations in which summary judgments have been upheld on appeal. For example, in dog bite cases, because the legal standard to maintain a case is much higher than a normal negligence case, lawyers for the dog bite victim must plan on having to defend a motion for summary judgment from the very beginning of the lawsuit. Due to the need to show the aggressiveness of the dog and the prior aggressiveness, there are usually motions for summary judgment on this aspect.  It is important to develop this type of evidence from animal control records, veterinary records or even first hand testimony early in the case to make sure that the case is prepared to defeat the defendant’s motion for summary judgment that is likely to be filed.  By anticipating the defendant’s move and preparing for it, the trial lawyer increases the likelihood of defeating that motion and having a full trial.

Determining the Type of Trial

There are many factors considered in determining what type of trial will be desired. In Collin County, the jurors are perceived to be very conservative. Those defending lawsuits would rather have a jury, but those bringing the cases will often rather not have a jury trial.

The reputation of jurors in the legal community makes a difference as to whether or not people demand a jury or not. In the more liberal areas, people are more likely to demand juries from the plaintiff’s standpoint. In the more conservative areas, defendants are more likely to demand jury trials as opposed to bench trials.

Even that depends upon the individual judge. Some people have had bad experiences with judges based on their background or how they have treated the lawyer in other cases.  The judge can have a significant impact on the type of trial demanded by the lawyers.

Serving as a Juror in a Jury Trial

There are specific standards for a person to be able to serve on a jury. A person cannot serve on a jury if they are not a citizen of the United States. They cannot serve on a jury if they cannot understand, read, and write the English language because most of the evidence is in English. There are specific factors like that that prevent someone from being on the jury. Then there are things a juror can be qualified but can choose to take exemptions, like if they are over a certain age or if they have young children that depend upon them during the daytime.

There can also be bias and prejudice for a particular kind of case. Their own personal experiences could color so much their judgment that they come in with prejudgments of who they want to win or lose the case. The same thing happens if someone has been a defendant in a case. For instance, if a person was a defendant in a dog bite case, they not be the most objective juror to sit on a case where a person is seeking compensation due to a dog attack

When both lawyers eliminate those potential jurors they believe will actively harm their side of the case, then hopefully, we are left with people in the middle who are going to fairly adjudicate the issues that are before them—that is the theory at least.  So, if you are called to jury duty and don’t say much, you are more likely to not be eliminated and end up on the jury.  If you speak up, you are less likely to end up sitting on the case.