Monthly Archives: July 2007

What Jurors Think of Your Personal Injury Case

The Deliberations Blog provided a link to a survey from Vox.com. The question from the survey was “Have you ever served on a jury? What was your experience?”

I think the results from the personal injury cases were fascinating:

“It was a minor car accident involving a taxi driver and the teenage girl that hit him. He was trying to prove that she caused his TMJ problem. In the end we rewarded him with the money for his medical bills.” Interesting. Sounds like the jury didn’t necessarily buy the allegation that the accident caused the injury, so they compromised with medical bills only.

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Filed under Juries, Trial Practice

The Secret Illinois Law that “The Man” Doesn’t Want Jurors to Know About

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The “Lost Chance” doctrine allows a medical malpractice plaintiff to prove proximate cause by showing that the defendant’s negligent conduct either increased the risk of harm or lessened the effectiveness of treatment. Holton v. Memorial Hosp., 176 Ill.2d 95, 111, 679 N.E.2d 1202, 1209 (1997). This is true even if the chance of recovery would be less than 50%.

Don’t tell the jury though. A number of cases don’t allow a special instruction on the lost chance doctrine. Here is an amazingly important piece of the law that the judge won’t tell the jury about. The cases hold that you, as a plaintiff’s attorney, can tell the jury about the doctrine. Never mind the fact that pattern instruction 1.01 tells jurors that the law is contained in the instructions and to disregard all other statements by attorneys.

This is probably the most bizarre restriction I’ve seen, and really needs to be changed. Fight the power.

(Howard Zimmerle is an accident attorney in Rock Island, and Moline Illinois)

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Filed under Illinois Case Law, Medical Malpractice

Off to the AAJ Conference in Chicago!

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Well folks, I’m off to the American Association for Justice conference in Chicago… don’t expect any new posts until I get back.

If you read this, and see me in Chicago, introduce yourself.

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Good video on the BS that is tort reform

Here’s an 8 minute video on YouTube exposing some of the truths about the tort reform movement… no huge new ground here, but if you’re out of the loop, some of the highlights are:

1. The US Chamber of Commerce and the Tobacco Companies were responsible for the tort reform movement;

2. The McDonalds coffee case was more serious than people knew (ie the coffee was 180 degrees, McDonalds knew it would scald people, the woman needed a hospital stay and skin grafts, and after an appeal she only got a small settlement).

It also briefly discusses one of my favorite people… the DC pants idiot. Enjoy!

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The Value of Wrongful Death Cases

One of the biggest challenges facing wrongful death attorneys and juries is to put a value on the life that was lost. Medical bills, lost wages, etc is the easy part – there’s a number for that. Things like pain and suffering (not usually recoverable in wrongful death cases), and loss of society or consortium can be very difficult to put a value on.

Now there’s a study in the UK courtesy of Scientific American that purports to put a price of losing a loved one. I’d be very interested to see the actual research, but the numbers they apparently came up with were as follows:

Loss of a spouse: $220,000 annually;
Loss of a child: $118,000 annually;
Loss of a parent: $28,000 annually;
Loss of a friend: $16,000 annually; and
Loss of a sibling: $2,000 annually.

This obviously raises a lot of questions… but it’s still worth a look.

(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury attorney in Rock Island, Illinois)

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Filed under Juries, Legal News, Negotiations, Settlements, Trial Practice, Wrongful Death