I have always suspected that jurors in malpractice cases have a bias toward the defendant doctor. I never really had any statistics to back it up, but it just seemed that way.
Well now, thanks to the Deliberations blog, I have statistics to back me up. Apparently there was a study into juror biases in medical malpractice cases, and without wasting Deliberations’ flavor by linking the study by itself, I’ll summarize it thusly: For a plaintiff to win a medical malpractice jury trial, the negligence has to be really, really good.
This is unfortunate, because it means plaintiffs with valid claims don’t usually go home with jury awards. While the legal standard is “a breach of the standard of care, causing injury to the person,” it seems from the study that a jury needs “a really bad breach of the standard of care.” This just means that people like us have to work that much harder to prepare cases. Also, some attorneys tend to hammer on the injury aspect at trial, possibly in the hope that a jury would award damages based on sympathy. This study would maybe indicate that a better tactic would be to hammer on the liability aspect a little more, so that they jury really understands that the doctor was at fault.