Delay in Jury Trials in Bergen County: What to Do?

As we Tweeted earlier, according to press reports, no civil trials that are expected to last two weeks or longer will take place in Bergen County for the time being. This new policy was necessitated by a flood of judges who have recently retired. These retirements will leave Bergen County with only 27 of 36 of its judgeships filled as of next month a vacancy rate of 25 percent. The resulting delay in getting cases tried will definitely impact personal injury victims, and I am afraid not for the better. Justice delayed is justice denied. Insurance companies could not have asked for a better gift. In general, they would much rather pay later, rather than sooner. In the meantime, they can earn interest on their money.

So what can accident victims and their personal injury attorneys do? Private out of court arbitration is one option, but the defense would have to agree, which is questionable. Further, arbitration is expensive, and so should not be even considered, except for cases with large damages. Finally, arbitrators tend to award less than jurors. In sum, in most cases, private arbitration will not be a good option for most victims, whether their case involves an auto accident, slip and fall accident, dog bite, or most any other kind of personal injury.

It seems to me that the better option would be for the personal injury attorney handling the case to remember the old acronym “KISS” Keep It Simple, Stupid. Most cases, properly prepared, do not need to last two weeks. Good pre-trial preparation goes a long way towards reducing the number of trial days required. Remember, trials expected to last less than two weeks are not subject to the new policy. Of course, some cases are truly complicated and may require two weeks or more to try.

Brevity is said to be the soul of wit. It can also be the ticket for a personal injury attorney to get his or her case heard sooner, rather than later.

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