A recent publication of reasons for judgment regarding an injury claim in BC can make a case for all clients obtaining legal expense insurance. The outcome of a judgment regarding a plaintiff’s request to strike a trial by jury, serves to illustrate that not all cases will as in favour of the client as they might expect or hope.
On November 14, 2017, the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, published reasons for judgment in dismissing a plaintiff request to strike a jury notice in an ICBC injury claim.
The case, Froese v. Wilson, saw a 17-year-old plaintiff who “became severely intoxicated at a house party” and left the party riding in the cargo box of a pickup truck. At some point, the plaintiff stood up in the box of the truck and “a movement of the vehicle allegedly caused him to fall out of the truck.”
The plaintiff sued for damages, and the matter was set down for a 20 day trial with the defendants (the owner and driver of the truck) electing a trial by jury. The plaintiff objected and put forward a request to strike the jury in favour of a judge.
One of the reasons given for the objection was that total of 19 expert witnesses would testify, making the matter too complex for a jury. Notably, the plaintiff also objected with the statement that a jury “may take a harsher view of the plaintiff’s conduct than would a judge in assessing liability.”
The plaintiff, in this case, requested that the jury be struck because he was concerned that the jury’s view of his actions at the time of the injury would negatively impact his ability to be successful in the case.
The Honourable Justice N. Smith addressed the concern that the matter would be too complex for a jury be stating: “I am not persuaded that those areas of disagreement are so complex that they cannot be considered by a properly instructed jury on the basis of properly presented and explained expert evidence.”
As for the concern that the jury would have a harsh view of the plaintiff’s conduct, Justice Smith said:
“That is entirely speculative and I presume jurors will be attentive to whatever instructions the trial judge gives them on how they are to go about assessing the relative blameworthiness of both parties. However, the possibility that a jury verdict may reflect community attitudes that differ from those of judges is one of the frequent justifications for retaining the jury system.”
In conclusion, Justice Smith came to the decision that the plaintiff failed to meet the onus of showing that having a jury would not be appropriate and that the presumptive right to a jury should be denied.
The application to strike the jury was dismissed.
A Strong Reason for Redress After the Event Insurance
But what does this all have to do with After the Event Insurance? While the case does not directly involve ATE, it does promote a reason why all clients should obtain a policy when proceeding with litigation.
In the case, the plaintiff was attempting to do something they believed would lower their legal risk. However, with the request being denied, the plaintiff would likely believe their legal risk, and therefore their financial risk, to be quite high because of the way the jury would view their actions.
Even if their lawyer decided their legal risk was minimal to moderate, the client may not feel the same way. Even further, if the client perceives their risk of being unsuccessful as significant they likely see their financial risk as being too high. At this point, the plaintiff may feel pressured to accept a settlement that is lower than what their lawyer believes they could receive.
In personal injury cases such as this, it’s clear that the plaintiff would benefit from obtaining legal expense insurance. That’s what Redress ATE is designed for: to make sure clients feel confident in pursuing appropriate compensation even when there is financial risk involved in not winning the case.
If you are interested in obtaining a RATE policy for your clients, contact Redress today.