How do you think that they might view your injury claim? How do you think that they might feel about awarding money to compensate you for your injury? What factors might influence them if they don’t even know you?
In answering those questions, there are a few things that we understand. To begin with, your friends, family and neighbors probably are not very well educated, or have the requisite experience, to make the medical and legal determinations necessary for a correct decision. They will be guided by the testimony of doctors and the court’s instruction on the law that is applicable to the case.
These instructions are called jury instructions. Jurors often don’t understand all of the instructions, which are alien to them. Even if they understand all of the instructions, jurors don’t always agree with the instructions and some of them may choose to ignore the instructions. They do that because they come to the trial with bias’ and prejudices of their own that have developed over a lifetime that can be quite strong.
Invariably I end up disqualifying some prospective jurors because they state during jury selection that they will not award any money for pain and suffering although the law entities persons who are injured through someone else’s negligence to recover money damages for pain and suffering.
The problem is that the insurance industry has spent millions and millions of dollars feeding propaganda to the media and politicians to the effect that juries award ridiculous amounts of money for ridiculous reasons in order to enrich undeserving plaintiffs and their attorneys, when the opposite is actually true. What is odd is that each of these prospective jurors know that they wouldn’t give away money. So why would they presume that other jurors would do that?
These are insurance industry business interest promoted issues that have to be overcome at trial in order to achieve a fair and satisfactory result.
To a degree there are invariably both financial and emotional costs in trying these cases. I do this for a living and accept that, but clients are generally not aware of what is involved. At trial, the focus will probably be on the injured person rather than the person who caused the injury. In automobile cases this is because the defense (usually on the eve of trial) confesses fault so that it is not demonstrated to the jury.
This is to make the at-fault party look like a good guy. So the focus shifts to the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff may feel that it is the plaintiff who is on trial rather than the defendant, which isn’t fair.
Prospective jurors have been fed years of propaganda by the insurance industry and some politicians that people who bring claims and their attorneys are looking for an unwarranted financial windfall, and are not to be trusted. This is something that has to be overcome. People with injuries who go through this process usually assume that when twelve people hear their case, the requisite number of them will do the right thing. They generally won’t get there without help.
Another thing that must be overcome at trial is that in most cases the defense will be able to require that that the injured person attend a medical examination that is conducted by a medical doctor who the defense selects, who will see the injured person briefly one time, and who then will be called as a witness for the defense at trial. You have no doubt heard of the proverbial “company doctor”.
Particularly in soft-tissue injury cases, it can assumed that the defense doctor will give the opinion that there is no longer anything wrong with the plaintiff, that there wasn’t much if anything wrong with the plaintiff to begin with, and that the plaintiff received too much treatment at too high a cost; they normally say that or some variation of it in every case. I tried a case in the summer of 2013 in which two treating chiropractors and an orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff had a ratable impairment of his neck as measured by guidelines adopted by the American Medical Association.
An elderly, retired orthopedist hired by the defense, who saw the plaintiff once briefly, nevertheless stated prior to trial that he plaintiff hadn’t even been injured, which he modified to the jury in testifying that the injury was minor and that the plaintiff should have fully recovered within 60 days. The goal in trials like these is to persuade the jury to believe the treating doctors rather than the insurance company “have gun will travel” witness. The more qualified the attorney representing the injured person at trial, the better the injured person is likely to do. Once again, whether or not the claim is filed as a suit, these issues underlay settlement considerations.
Another major factor in these cases is that the value drivers in injury cases are long-term impairments and sources of pain that will significantly affect the quality of an injury victim’s life, essentially forever. If by the time of trial the injury victim is no longer symptomatic, that will adversely affect the value of the claim.
These are a few of the factors that affect the value of a claim, that are understood by the insurance industry that negotiates the settlement of these claims. This understanding affects the value of claims that are made that are not even filed as law suits. That is because how the parties view what a jury might do on a case, more than anything else, affects what claims settle for. Thus, you will do a lot better coping with these issues if you are represented by an experienced injury attorney who handles these cases on a daily basis.
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If you need an accident attorney in Washington or Oregon, you can hardly find anyone as experienced and knowledgeable as Mr. James Sellers, with more than 40 years of experience. If you've been in a motor vehicle accident and you are uncertain what you next step should be to file a claim for damages, please fill out our free case consultation or call us to speak with Mr. Sellers for an informal discussion regarding your options.