While attorneys on both sides in any given case will have a number in mind as to damages based on mathematical calculations and the law, throw that all out the window when it comes to juries. A jury’s determination of damages is oftentimes not based off of any calculation or legal theory, but completely subjective. Jurors will usually make decisions with personal experiences and feelings in mind, especially in wrongful death or serious personal injury cases.
A recent article from the Virginia Lawyers Weekly compiled a list of 5 factors that describe how juries make their decision.
1. Jurors, in the beginning, will go back and forth to get a feel for each other’s views on overall damage amounts.
2. Once discussions begin, jurors focus on damage awards as a whole, and then juries get into the specifics of why the award is what it is.
3. Juries will discuss extraneous considerations if there are any.
4. When jurors disagree about amounts, they usually will settle on a midpoint.
5. Alternative damage offerings are complicated and often case dependent.
Sometimes, before an actual discussion about the damage awards, a juror will comment about the “unreasonableness” of an amount requested. That is a sign that this juror is not willing to award that much. Other times, jurors will make it known that the defendant deserves to be punished for what he or she did and will be willing to award more than the plaintiff is requesting.
Once damage awards are discussed in general terms, juries will then break down the awards into specific numbers (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc.).Research also shows that “jurors find specific numbers more credible for plaintiffs.”In other words, a plaintiff that asks for $2,761,632 in damages is seen as more credible than a plaintiff that rounds up and asks for $2.8 million.
Sometimes the jurors who favor “high” awards will try and convince the “low” award jurors to increase their numbers because they think the attorney will take a large part of the award in attorney’s fees.
Our attorneys’ experience in Virginia personal injury jury trials is that juries are more likely to find in favor of the plaintiff, but award amounts tend to be lower than those given in other states.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of another person’s negligence in Virginia and would like more information, please call us at (855) 954-4141 for a free case evaluation or visit us online.