How a Jury Determines Value of a Personal Injury Case

Jury verdict personal injury caseHow do juries determine the value of a Personal Injury Case?

Although one may see various formulas claiming to calculate the “worth” of an injury, there is no uniform standard, scientific formula, chart or table which can categorize each accident and measure each victim’s Pain and Suffering. It’s unique and different for every case.  If decided in an Ohio court, the “value” of the case is determined by the verdict of the jury.

There are many factors juries typically consider. The credibility and likeability of the victim as a witness is crucial to the case.  The credibility and likeability of the defendant  also can not be overlooked.

For example, are the victim’s activities following the accident consistent with the claimed injuries?  If the injured party is claiming that his/her everyday life has changed as a result of the accident, can they communicate in court how that life is different because of the accident?

Jurors are also often influenced by extraneous factors such as age, race, sex, occupation, marital status, social status (a victim appearing wealthy may receive a lower damage award, for example) and pain tolerance.  A person with low pain tolerance could be awarded more because he or she is perceived to have suffered more.  Likewise, older people who often cannot recuperate easily and need more time to recover may be considered to have suffered more than younger plaintiffs who may heal more quickly.

The victim’s lawyers may try to emphasize an “outrage factor” associated with the accident such as the defendant leaving the scene and allowing the injured party to lie there without assistance.

The opposing side will look for a weakness in the case and make the most of it in court.  Some of the most common weaknesses on the plaintiff’s side are:

(1). The victim delays in obtaining medical treatment after the accident or there is an inadequately explained delay in the development of symptoms.  The latter may raise questions as to the authenticity of the claim as well as questions about failure to mitigate damages (i.e. if the victim had sought treatment sooner, the injury could be less severe).  However, some types of injuries take time to develop and evidence of these situations must be supplied.

(2). Pre-existing injuries which are aggravated by the new injury are also often difficult to prove.

(3). Sometimes a victim claims to have experienced pain, but there are no diagnostic findings to support the claim.  On other occasions the jury learns the plaintiff is claiming very serious injury, but property damage is minor.  The logical question might be how could this person be so seriously injured with hardly a scratch on his automobile?

(4).  Another very important consideration is the documentation presented. This means that all medical bills must be calculated accurately.  Any future expenses required should be estimated as well as the victim’s lost wages and lost future earning capacity. Generally, the better the documentation, the higher the award.  However, a record of prolonged treatment for a very minor injury could make the jury believe the plaintiff is not trustworthy.

The standard of proof in a personal injury case (which is a civil case) is “preponderance of the evidence.”  In other words, something is “more likely true than not true” or stated another way, 51% of the weight of the evidence is sufficient proof to indicate damages are due.

The skill and experience of a personal injury attorney in representing an injured client can influence the evaluation of damages and the outcome of a case.  It takes a lot of intuition, experience and knowledge to recover damages in these types of cases.

If you or a loved one has become the victim of an accident anywhere in Ohio, please contact the Ohio personal injury law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP  for a free consultation by calling 1-800-297-9191 or sending a  Message directly from our website at slaterzurz.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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3 Comments on “How a Jury Determines Value of a Personal Injury Case”

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