Featured Podcast – Occupational Therapists
One of the most important health care providers to help in recovering from an accident is an occupational therapist (O.T.). However, most people know very little about what occupational therapists do, how they are trained, or why they would need an “O.T.” In this episode, Nigel and Bill convene a panel discussion with three leading occupational therapists who help listeners better understand what their job is – and why they love doing it.Episode 5 Transcript
Episode 5 Q&A
Q: Does every trial automatically get tried by a jury and if it does, how many people sit on the jury and how are they chosen?
A: The answer to that question is no. Not all cases are tried by a jury and we’re talking about civil lawsuits which is different than criminal cases. Basically a person that’s injured in an accident has a right to have their case tried by a jury if that’s their desire and they can file something called a Jury Notice and that basically says I want a jury. The defendant, usually the insurance company, can also choose to have a jury even if the plaintiff has not and so they can put in a Jury Notice saying we want the case tried by a jury. If one or both of them put in the Jury Notice then the case is going to be tried by a jury with some exceptions that I won’t get into because it would become too complicated. If neither party puts in Jury Notice then the case gets tried by a single judge sitting by him or herself. Juries are selected basically at random. People within the city and outside of the city would receive Jury Notices and they show up and there are a number of maybe 150 or so that become the jury panel. Their names are literally put into a bin, they are spun and names are pulled out and they then become the jury members. A lawyer acting for the plaintiff, being the person injured, or acting for the insurance company, each has four challenges. What that means is if somebody comes up and I’m representing a client and I don’t like the way they look or I don’t like the fact that, let’s say, they work for an insurance company, then I can object to that person sitting. The difficulty is once you’ve used up your four objections, when the fifth person comes along you have no ability to object to them being a jury member.
Basically, the answer is no, not every case is tried by a jury but you do have the right to a jury trial if that’s what you want. There are also some statutory limitations, but that’s another discussion.
Q: I’m 32 years old and I had a recent injury this winter involving a snowmobile to my left shoulder. When I was 24 years old I had a prior car accident and badly broke my leg. If I proceed forward with the legal case, does everything from my old accident get dredged up all over again?
A: A short answer would be no but unfortunately they’re not always that simple. Basically, this is how it works. Generally speaking when somebody’s injured the insurance company and their lawyer is entitled to go back and examine their health history from approximately 5 years before the accident forward to the date of the accident. If within that medical documentation there is something that suggests there is a relevant issue that may have occurred before the 5 years, then they may be able to go back beyond 5 years. So if you broke your leg a number of years ago and now you have a compliant with your left shoulder, you would say ‘what does my right leg have to do with my left shoulder’. Unless there is some tie in there then it may not be relevant and they may not be entitled to look at it. However, if your right leg has prevented you from working and then you have a left shoulder injury and say ‘I would have gone back to work but for my left shoulder injury’, then clearly the right leg injury becomes relevant because it’s what had been keeping you off work and there will certainly be an issue or question as to whether you would have been able to get back to work even if you had not injured your left shoulder. So, it can be relevant and yes they are entitled to go into your history before the accident which is why it’s very important to, even before you retain a lawyer, to make sure when you’re filling out accident benefits forms or answering questions that you are honest about any previous injury that you suffered so that it doesn’t come back to haunt you where you denied it.
The reality is that with most clients, there are very few that have a truly squeaky clean medical file before an accident happens and so it’s a very common phenomenon that Michelle’s asking about.
Another reason why you really want to retain a competent lawyer as soon as possible so that they can ensure that you are providing the answers that are necessary and not giving out information that is not necessary.