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All about voir dire in trucking cases

July 10, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan Auto Law attorney Thomas James speaking at American Association for Justice Annual Conference in Montreal

Michigan Auto Law attorney Thomas James
Attorney Tom James

As Americans, we have a fundamental right to a fair trial. An integral part of this is “voir dire,” or the or the questioning of prospective jurors by attorneys before the trial begins.

In truck accident cases, voir dire takes on a whole new meaning, as there are myriad safety issues specific to the trucking industry. These issues include fatigued driving, maintenance of fully-loaded semi trucks and the immense responsibility a trucker takes on when behind the wheel. Many of these issues stem from truck companies that pressure truckers to get loads to their destinations quicker – all in the name of a bigger bottom line.

Tomorrow, our very own Thomas James will be presenting on “Voir Dire in Trucking Cases,” during the American Association for Justice Annual Conference in Montreal. Tom will be speaking before the organization’s Truck Accident Litigation Group.

Voir dire is conducted by lawyers and by a judge in court. It’s a process used to determine if any juror is biased in a way that would tend to favor one side over another in a trial. Voir dire can be as simple as finding out if a juror already knows one of the parties or lawyers involved, or it can be more complicated, like the insurance company executive who’s asked to serve on a No Fault insurance trial regarding overdue insurance benefits.

The topics Tom will cover include:

  • Purposes of voir dire.
  • Focus groups in trial.
  • Gathering information on prospective jurors.
  • Judge-conducted voir dire.
  • Safety issues specific to trucking cases.

Tom says voir dire is one of the most important parts of trial — far more than even the opening statement or closing argument. And I agree. In this world today, with polarized opinions and strongly held views, if you cannot find six or eight people who can be equally fair to both sides, you’ve already failed your client. In this case, seriously injured truck accident victims who have been wronged by negligent truck companies that put profits over safety.

The American Association for Justice is the nation’s largest association of advocates serving the needs of personal injury victims, with more than 50,000 lawyer members. Michigan Auto Law has been a long-standing member, contributor and lecturer to the organization.

Related info:

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