You may not necessarily see a physical jury if you settle out of court, however as your lawyer could tell you, a jury’s decision will definitely influence the outcome of the settlement and the final settlement amount.When you, the defendant, and your lawyers sit down with the insurance companies to determine a settlement amount, your decisions and actions will be strongly influenced by what the jury would do in the same situation if your case went to trial.
Understanding the logic that goes into a jury’s verdict is not always cut and dry. There are many factors that go into this. That’s the reason why the verdict can vary even for similar cases. For example, the apportionment of liability, jurisdictional damage caps, reduction to present value, and collateral source payments all play important roles in the final verdict.
Apportionment of liability
The jury could decide that many different parties are liable for your personal injury accident. This is called apportionment of liability and it depends on the jurisdiction in which your accident took place. The jury must also decide which non-parties were potentially at fault as well. Your final settlement will be reduced accordingly.
Suppose you were originally going to get a $1 million settlement but the jury finds that you were 30% at fault for the accident. The jury also finds that another non-part is 10% at fault. Your final settlement will be reduced by 40%. Therefore, you would only get $600,000.You are in for some bad news if you live in a state that follows the pure comparative negligence system. If the defendant is less than 51% at fault for your injuries, you may not receive a settlement at all.
Jurisdictional damage caps
Your personal injury lawyer in Richmond Hill likely told you about jurisdictional damage caps. This is the upper limit or ‘cap’ on the settlement amount that you can receive. You could be in bad luck if the jury gives you an award that is higher than the jurisdictional damage cap. The judge would then reduce it to an amount that is within the jurisdictional cap amount.
Jurisdictional caps are only a few decades old so most jurors don’t know about them. Jurisdictional caps arose because people were suing the defendant for unaffordable high sums of money. These caps differ by state and the type of case being pursued in court. For example, if your cap will be much higher for a medical malpractice case than it would be for a simple negligence case. It’s always best to ask a personal injury lawyer about any jurisdictional caps that may affect your final settlement value.
Reduction to present value
You may not know this – most plaintiffs don’t – but you’ll receive all compensation for lost future wages and/or income when the jury and judge award your final settlement. It may seem unfair, but the compensation system is actually set up this way to keep plaintiffs from constantly suing defendants for more and more money as expenses from the personal injury accident continue to accumulate.
The jury will award you what you would have foregone in terms of lost future wages and income in today’s dollar values. Juries and judges use this method of calculating final settlement values unless the case doesn’t involve future economic damages.
Guessing a jury award
There are a lot of complex calculations that go into estimating a jury award. But you have to understand that all of this is just based on estimates and educated guessing. You need to make sure to hire a good personal injury lawyer who will get you the settlement you deserve for this reason.