Below are sample voir dire questions for a civil personal injury trial.
Thoughts on Good Voir Dire Questions
Before we get to the sample voir dire questions, let’s talk about our goals and what we are looking to accomplish in voir dire in 2021.
Our focus is really on the one thing we can control which is striking the jurors we know that we do not want. In a malpractice case, absent something wildly compelling, we are going to strike the woman whose father is a doctor who believes he was the victim of frivolous malpractice lawsuits.
One common question plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers like to ask is what the jurors think about civil lawsuits. But opinions on lawsuits are not predictive of how a juror will find, and we would rather not poison the well by giving voice to any negative sentiment about lawsuits.
Most good judges in Maryland know voir dire is wildly restrictive and will give you a little latitude for follow-up. If you have just one follow-up question you want to ask because you are concerned but do not have a specific question in mind, a good one is “Is there anything we have not talked about that you think we should know?
In 2021, we are trying to take it a step further. Having a fair neutral jury panel is in everyone’s best interest. So we are filing a motion in every personal injury or wrongful death case to ask the judge to let us conduct more meaningful voir dire. We have gotten a very positive reaction because judges also want an impartial jury and are willing to help the litigants get there.
Covid and Voir Dire
Also, if you are a plaintiffs’ lawyer, remember that Covid-safe jurors are better for you than jurors who do not believe in vaccinations or Covid precautions.
So here are some sample template questions in an car accident case involving an insurance company:
- On a scale of 0-100 (with 0 being no fear of COVID-19 and 100 being absolutely terrified), what is your fear level regarding the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Do you mind wearing a face mask during trial?
- Do you think it is safe for this court to be conducting jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The irony for plaintiffs lawyers is you want the juror who do not want to be there because they fear Covid.
Sample Civil Voir Dire
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MARYLAND
STEVEN SPAID – Plaintiff
SANDRA STEVENS- Defendant
CASE NO.: 03-C-04-099273 MT
PLAINTIFF’S VOIR DIRE
Plaintiff, Steven Spaid by and through his attorneys, Ronald V. Miller, Jr., Laura G. Zois, and Miller & Zois, LLC, and requests that this Court propounds the following questions to the prospective jurors in the above-captioned matter:
1. This is a personal injury case involving a car accident that took place on January 3, 2021, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on southbound Point Pleasant Road near its intersection with Smith Avenue.
Plaintiff was lawfully operating his motor vehicle when he was struck head-on by Defendant, who was traveling northbound on Point Pleasant Road, causing Plaintiff severe injuries and property damage. Does any member of the jury panel have any personal knowledge of this incident?
2. The parties of the case are as follows:
- Steven Spaid, the Plaintiff
- Sandra Stevens, Defendant
Is any member of the jury familiar with any of the parties in this case or employed by any of the parties in this case?
3. The attorneys in the case are as follows:
A. Laura G. Zois, for the Plaintiff with Miller & Zois B. Ronald V. Miller, Jr. for Plaintiff with Miller & Zois C. Michael Kodek, Esquire, for the Defendant. Is any member of the jury panel familiar with the attorneys in this case or their law firms?
4. The following fact witness may testify in this case:
A. Karol Sopel B. Officer Brian Kase, C. Laura Kahl D. Mary Ann Dutton Is any member of the jury panel familiar with any of these witnesses?
5. This case involves medical treatment from the following healthcare providers and medical expert witnesses.
- University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center
- Miles L. Gerber, M.D.
- Jeff P. O’Hearn, M.D.
- Larry St. Laurent, Ph.D.
- Doug Strauss, Ph.D.
- Michael McGinnis, vocational rehabilitation expert
- Larry Sanders, vocational rehabilitation expert
Is any member of the jury panel familiar with any of the following doctors or treatment facilities? Has any member of the Jury panel been a patient or employee of any of these doctors or healthcare facilities?
6. Have you, any member of your immediate family or close personal friend been involved in a lawsuit or claim against another person, as either the party bringing the claim or defending the claim? The claims would include any injury or damage, including a car accident, worker’s compensation claim, assault and battery, or a slip and fall? If so would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
7. Have you, any member of your immediate family or close personal friend been injured in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence? Or, have you been involved in an accident that was your responsibility that resulted in another persons injuries? If so, would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
8. Have you, any member of your immediate family or close personal friend ever been diagnosed with a knee injury? If so would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
9. Have you, any member of your immediate family or close personal friend ever had knee surgery? If so, would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
10. Have you, any member of your immediate family or close personal friend ever worked in the medical field? If so, would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
11. Have you, any member of your immediate family or close personal friend ever worked in the legal profession? If so, would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
12. Have you ever served on a jury before? If so, would that experience affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?
13. Do you have any preconceived notions, prejudices, or feelings about people who bring lawsuits or make claims for injuries they have sustained arising out of someone else’s negligence?
14. Have you ever received any information from any source about “Tort Reform” legislation, a supporter of Tort Reform or a m
ember of any Tort Reform organization or group? [Note: it is tough to get a judge to ask this question. Still, many do because they want to get to the bottom of who has a preconceived opinion that shows a strong bias against one party. Oh, who am I kidding? Okay, a strong bias against plaintiffs.]
15. Do you feel that you would have any difficulty in following the Court’s instructions on the law?
16. Have you had any personal experiences that you believe would prevent you from rendering a fair and impartial verdict in this personal injury case?
17. Do you have any physical problems or personal commitment problems that would prevent you from sitting on this jury for two days?
18. Do you believe that you would have any problem for any reason rendering a fair and impartial verdict for any reason?
19. Do you have any bias at all towards the plaintiff for bringing the lawsuit against the Defendant or any bias towards Defendant for defending the claim?