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.
“I was one of them. It was only a 3 day trial and we only deliberated for about 3 hours. Some dumbass got backed into on the Friday before Christmas in a crowded parking lot and claimed he was totally injured and needed pain and suffering $$ as well. The testimony pointed to yes, he was in a car that got hit (going about 5mph). The car he was riding in even had a baby in it and the baby’s mother (she was driving and yet she was not injured!) testified that the baby didn’t even wake up. And, some PI took pictures of him riding a bike and we got to see those after he claimed he couldn’t work because of the pain.” Ouch. I guess this may have come down to how the claim was presented. I also think it’s important for plaintiffs to know that they will likely be videotaped in whatever they do. Either way, I’m not sure you can ever get a jury to believe that a major injury was caused by a minor accident, unless you have an engineer or someone to show how it’s possible. If the claim is a minor injury, it should be treated as such.
“The plaintiff was a large angry looking man with a chip on his shoulder. He was seeking medical expenses for the ambulance ride to a hospital after a car accident and money for sporadic chiropractic visits over several months. His attorney kept telling us we should award him the money since it was just coming from and insurance agency and the missionary wouldn’t actually have to pay anything. However, throughout the presentation of information it really seemed like this guy was not suing for anything valid, except the ambulance ride. I’ve seen a chiropractor for back pain. Every chiropractor will tell you to come frequently for the first few weeks and then gradually taper off the visits. This dude seemed to go to the chiropractor when he felt like it. We all figured that if he had really been in pain he’d have been a little more dedicated to getting rid of said pain.” See… this is exactly what I was talking about with my post on getting the chiropractor bills paid. I’m shocked at the idea that the attorney mentioned insurance… that’ll usually result in a mistrial. Next, another interesting insight from the same post:
“The plaintiff was “Big Dealin’ Joe,” who owns several car dealerships in the Chicago area. Like he needed to sue a missionary??” Very interesting. In theory, the law exists to make people whole and compensate them for a wrong that has been done to them. The plaintiff’s wealth or lack thereof wouldn’t make his injuries any better. Nevertheless, in the real world, that’s the kind of stuff people think about. Gotta keep that in mind.
“It lasted five days and was very boring. Five days to decide who was at fault for a traffic incident.” Wow. That lasted five days? We’ve done medical malpractice cases in five days. I’ve gotta wonder what more there is to this.
This one is actually the most interesting, and quite long, so rather than quote it, I’ll let you read the whole thing. Apparently $32,000 wasn’t enough for one plaintiff’s mother. No idea if it was fair or not, but I was interested in the fact that the defendant admitted fault, but that the jury still believed the plaintiff was somewhat at fault, and apparently reduced her damages accordingly.
I think the biggest lessons to be learned from this are:
1. Don’t overreach. If you try to make a neck sprain into something more, jurors will smell it.
2. Jurors take their role seriously, even if they don’t want to be there in the first place.
3. Juries will compromise, even where it doesn’t make the most sense.