Jurors and Jury Duty
From time to time we are all called upon to be jurors. This is a civil obligation and calling that is regarded with the highest degree of reverence. We are expected and required to be fair, impartial, and sit in judgment of the issues presented. We are to decide the facts based upon the evidence which is presented to us at trial without any regard given to our personal dislikes, beliefs, etc. However, due to the extremely well financed efforts of the Insurance Company Lobby, many jurors are left with pre-conceived notions concerning personal injury victims.
The Insurance Companies have gone out of their way for decades to try to poison the jury pool prior to anyone ever being seated on a jury! Unfortunately, the efforts of the Insurance Lobby have been effective and this has adversely affected jury verdicts to the point that many times injured individuals are not receiving the monetary award to which they are actually entitled. For example, jurors tend to think that if there is minor property damage, that translates into only minor physical injuries. This, of course, is what the insurance companies would want every juror to believe. However, study after study tends to show that there is absolutely no correlation or connection between the amount of property damage and the extent of injury. In fact, it is possible to be in a minor accident and have huge injuries and medical bills just as it is possible to be in a major accident, yet be unharmed. Actually, most orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists would tell you that based upon their experience this misconception that the insurance industry wants all to believe is anything but true.
The insurance companies, however, don’t tell us this, because they want to keep verdicts low. As evidence that this is a misconception, one study showed that at a speed of 3 miles per hour, thirty percent of the female victims were injured in the accident. Further, one third of all patients develop chronic complaints. If the insurance industry propaganda were true, how could these studies also be true? It is easily answered. Because the insurance companies try to twist and confuse the statistics! Of interest to note is that the insurance companies try to further create the impression that once litigation is resolved, then one complaining of injures will quickly feel better. Obviously, the implication is that the victim wasn’t really hurt. The research shows that this also is not the case. Rather, this is just another attempt by the insurance lobby to invade the province of the jury by making juries think that all litigants have ulterior motivations.
In Maryland, some Judges of the Court of Appeals while dealing with the specific issue of property damage in a case, actually disagreed with the insurance company perspective and said the following in a dissenting opinion which involved the relationship (or lack thereof) between property damage and one injuries: “the weight of scientific literature is to the contrary and because there is no way that, based merely on the extent of property damage, a fact finder could assess the injury of a party and particularly, whether a party had a pre-existing injury that was exacerbated by the impact . . .” Obviously, the members of the Court who wrote and agreed with the dissent did not believe this propaganda either.
If you are ever tasked with the proposition of being a juror, be fair, be honest, and remember to treat others similarly to how you would like to be treated! Then and only then will our system of justice work as it was intended. As a juror, you should not over compensate a Plaintiff, and conversely, you should not under compensate him or her either. Remember, fair compensation is all any Plaintiff requests, and fairness is for the jury to decide in an unbiased manner based upon the evidence presented. It should not be based upon what the insurance carriers or their lobbyists would have you believe nor what they have attempted to portray as true. Obviously, if the research, the studies, the doctors, and some Judges of the Court of Appeals of Maryland do not support it, there must be a reason why!
Also, the Insurance Company Lobby wants you to think that by awarding fair damages to a victim, your insurance rates will increase. Rather, you should ask yourself how you would want to be treated by a jury of your peers if you were the innocent victim who was injured. Then you will be guided by the proper principles. Whether or not insurance rates increase, decrease, or stay the same is irrelevant. The issue to be decided at trial is very simple. It is simply what are the fair damages that this injured person should be awarded due to the negligence of another. Don’t let the Lobby of the insurance companies confuse you into thinking about issues that are not before you at a trial. Also, don’t reward the negligent person by allowing him or her to walk away without consequences!