Jury Unanimity And South Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuits
Most people who hire personal injury lawyers and get compensation for their financial losses arising from an injury do not have to go to trial. In most cases, it is obvious that the at fault driver, or any other party responsible for the accident, has a legal responsibility to pay for the injuries they caused. Likewise, the injured person and the party that caused the accident can usually agree on how much the at fault party should pay without a judge having to decide. When personal cases go to trial, it is because an enormous amount of money is at stake or because the judge’s decision about the rights and responsibilities of the plaintiff or defendant could also affect other cases. So much is at stake at a civil or criminal trial that the court must follow a long list of rules, including rules about the jury, to ensure fairness. To find out more about the role of the jury in car accident lawsuits, contact a Columbia car accident lawyer.
South Carolina Requires Unanimous Jury Verdicts in Civil and Criminal Trials
In criminal trials, it is the jury, not the judge, who decides whether the defendant is innocent or guilty; the jury’s decision is called a verdict. All 12 jurors must agree on the verdict, or else the case ends in a mistrial, and the court might have to conduct a whole new trial. In civil trials, including those arising from personal injury lawsuits, each state can set its own laws about jury requirements, just as states make their own laws about the definition of and penalties for drunk driving or about which cannabis products, if any, are legal and in what context.
South Carolina requires a unanimous jury verdict both in civil cases and in criminal ones. In criminal cases, the jury must include 12 jurors, but in civil cases, the jury can have either six jurors or 12.
Can an At Fault Driver Face a Civil Case and a Criminal One for the Same Accident?
Some actions that cause car accidents are so dangerous that they can result in criminal charges for the at fault driver; the most obvious example is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you get injured by a drunk driver, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit whether or not the at fault driver ever faces charges in criminal court. If the driver does get criminal charges, the outcome of the criminal case affects the civil lawsuit. If the driver was convicted in criminal court, the civil court must rule in favor of the plaintiff. If the at fault driver was acquitted or pleaded no contest, then the plaintiff can only win the case if he or she is able to show a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries which resulted in financial losses.
Let Us Help You Today
The car accident lawyers at the Stanley Law Group can help you recover damages after a car accident, even if it means going to trial. Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.