What the 7th Amendment Means for You

Mar. 12th, 2013   /  

 

Nowadays, in political arguments and normal discourse alike, we hear a lot about the 1st Amendment, which guarantees both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We also hear a lot about the 2nd Amendment in connection with the debate-inspiring right to bear arms. Unfortunately, though, we don’t hear too much about the 7th Amendment.

As far as personal injury law is concerned, the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution (included in the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791) is second to none in importance — it’s right up there at the very top. The 7th Amendment reads, in part: “in Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States…”

So, what does this mean? There are two pieces of information contained within the above quote that are of the utmost importance. First, the 7th Amendment states that in civil trials — personal injury trials included — the right of a “trial by jury shall be preserved.” This means that, according to the Constitution, a civil trial must involve a jury of your peers. Why is this so significant? This ensures that the verdicts issued in court are not arbitrarily made by someone who might be nothing like you. When you “enjoy” a trial by a jury of your peers, you are given the opportunity to make your case (or for your lawyers to make your case) in front of people, selected at random, that live in your geographic region. While these “peers” certainly won’t be friends of yours (because the lawyers involved in jury selection would never allow that), they will also not be enemies (because said lawyers would never allow that either). They will be neutral observers, charged with evaluating the facts in an objective way and reaching a just decision.

Being victimized, say, by a giant corporation can be incredibly painful. Going up against said corporation in court can be more intimidating than you can imagine. The 7th Amendment, though, serves as an equalizer. Both the injured party and the defending corporation (per the current example) are given an equal opportunity to present their case to the jury, which is composed of members of the community in which the suit is filed. In the eye of the law, everyone is equal.

The second vitally important component of the above-listed selection from the 7th Amendment is the fact that facts determined by a jury cannot be reexamined by another court (unless it is allowed explicitly by the law). This gives power to the juries—their word is respected and, generally, final. This ensures that judicial power in civil cases ultimately rests in the hands of the juror members—your peers, or, if you happen to be selected for jury duty, you.

If you do have a personal injury case, chances are it will settle before it goes to court. Still, if it does go to court, find solace in the 7th Amendment to you U.S. Constitution, which keeps real power of the legal system in the hands of you and your peers.

If you have any questions about the 7th Amendment or any personal injury issue, please contact us at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green for a free consultation by calling 561-266-9191 or emailing daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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