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Judge and Gavel
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  • Richard L. Duquette

The Bicyclist Juror: The Great Levelers

Imagine opening your mail box one day and receiving a letter from the courthouse summonsing you to Jury Duty. Some might send in an objection to get out….whereas others will report at 8:00 a.m. to the court house Jury lounge to watch the introductory Juror movie…before getting sent out to a courtroom or home…(if not needed).

So what does this have to do with bicyclist legal tips?

ANSWER: A lot.

Let me share what I see (as a bicycle injury victim’s advocate) and try to connect bicyclists’ needs to Jury duty. The conflict usually arises when I get a call from an injured bicyclist or triathlete. Either it’s a solid economical case or simply not that bad to warrant hiring a lawyer. (I’ll talk about that subject in more detail in another article.)

In any event, either I see low ball insurance offers (in many instances) for the injured or athletes trying to “go it alone”, in hopes of being treated fairly by the insurance company. In both cases, it’s the prospect of having to face a real live jury that provides the necessary “reality check” to the insurance company to promote an eventual settlement….in most cases.

Now, imagine if athletes across the USA, unanimously appeared for jury duty. There wouldn’t be enough juror “strikes” (usually 6 in California) by the insurance defense lawyer to stack the jury against the athlete with non athletes. Instead, the injured athlete might get a jury foreperson that could go into deliberations and impress upon the other less active jurors the value of a loss of lifestyle, or damaged health. This perspective in the deliberation room will send a message into the community in the form of a fair jury, verdict that protects bicyclists, i.e.:

1. Bicyclists have rights.

2. Share the road with a bicyclist.

3. Fix pot holes in roads.

4. Construct bicycle lanes and paths for safety.

5. Athletic lifestyle matters, it’s not just a hobby.

6. Present and future health care costs should be paid in fullto victims – not chipped away and discounted by the insurance defense lawyers.

7. Non-economic damages should be paid for …. i.e. scars, pain, suffering, distress, discomfort, anxiety, fear, change of lifestyle…. In order to acknowledgethe “total persons” losses.

8. Promptly settle in big and small cases with or withouta lawyer, or get hammered by a jury.

In conclusion, the best legal tip I can give a bicyclist or athlete is to get on a jury and express your views, to improve society. As athletes and jurors… you can bring a giant to justice…. Vote your values, as juror-athletes are the “Great Levelers”.


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