How Does A Jury Evaluate Cases?
When you are first injured, the question of what a jury will do, months or possibly years down the line, may be the furthest thing from your mind. But if your case goes to trial, that time will someday come, and the way that juries make awards to personal injury victims may be something that you could be very interested in.
What Does the Jury Decide?
When your case is finished, the jury will take the evidence that they have heard in trial, and take it with them into the jury deliberation room, to decide two major things (1) whether the other side was negligent, and thus, liable for your injuries or damages, and (2) if so, what are your damages–that is, what amount of money is needed to make you whole again in the eyes of the law?
You would think that there is some handbook or set of guidelines that tell a jury that when someone has a broken wrist, it is worth this much, or when someone is suffering anxiety because of an accident, it is worth that amount.
But actually, there is no such guideline, and a jury is free to value your injuries however they want to.
Certainly, there are some things that are clearer–if you have $10,000 in medical expenses, the jury knows what your medical expenses are. If you will need therapy in the future at a cost of $10,000 per year, the jury can run those numbers, do the math, and figure out how much you should be awarded.
But other things are much more ambiguous, and harder to value (these are often called noneconomic damages). Things like anxiety, pain and suffering, loss of the quality of life, loss of companionship of a spouse, or PTSD, are all serious, but don’t have an exact number or “price tag,” the way lost wages, or medical bills do.
Here a jury can value your damages at whatever amount they think is reasonable. Your lawyer, in trial, can suggest what the value can be, but the jury does not need to follow that advice.
No Precedent From Prior Cases
Making things more difficult, a jury doesn’t have to follow what another jury does, even in a similar case. If I need back surgery, and my jury awarded $100,000, and you need back surgery, with the exact same treatment and injuries, your jury doesn’t also have to give you $100,000, just because that’s what I received.
This is why testimony of your trauma, and the way your injury has affected your life, is so important–it will give the jury some guidance as to what to value items of damages that normally are difficult to value.
Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today for help and a free consultation so that you know what you might expect in your personal injury trial.