In Louisiana, the parties to a civil lawsuit, like a car wreck case, have the right to a trial by jury if the amount in controversy is $10,000 or more. However, if the amount at issue is less than $10,000, or if the parties agree, the case may be tried to a judge, without a jury.
Jury v. Judge Trials:
In a civil case, including car wreck cases, it is possible that the case may be decided by a jury or by a judge (a bench trial). This depends on a variety of factors, including the amount at stake. Also, the parties can agree (or stipulate) to a judge trial and waive their right to a jury trial. This is not uncommon and happens more often in smaller cases. The advantage to a bench trial is typically that it is quicker and less expensive than a jury trial.
What Is The Jury Threshold?
The jury “threshold” means the amount in controversy (the value) a civil case must reach for the parties to have the right to a trial by jury. In Louisiana, the jury threshold is currently $10,000. That means the parties to any civil case with a potential of damages of $10,000 or more may request a trial by jury.
In 2020, Louisiana’s jury threshold was reduced from $50,000 to the $10,000 noted above. There is much debate as to whether a lower jury threshold is good or bad. Without getting into a political argument regarding tort reform, there is little doubt that lowering the jury threshold has led to log jams in civil court and increased case delays.
Is A Jury Or Judge Trial Better For My Car Accident Case?
A majority of the time when we file civil lawsuits involving car accidents, the amount at issue exceeds the jury threshold, meaning that the at-fault insurance company will typically request a trial by jury, even if we do not ask for one ourselves. That means there may not be a decision to make regarding a jury versus judge (bench) trial.
If there is a choice to make between a jury or judge trial, the decision is based upon a number of factors unique to the case, including the venue (which court we are in), the facts of the case, whether liability is in dispute, the amount at issue, etc. At Flattmann Law, we always make these decisions with our clients’ input and approval.
Have You Been Injured In A Serious Accident And Want To Know Your Options?
If you have been injured in a serious accident and want to know your options, contact us online or call our Covington office directly at 985.590.6182 to schedule your free consultation today. Flattmann Law serves clients on the Northshore, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom, Madisonville, Goodbee, Hammond, Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell.