In Georgia, you have the right to have your personal injury claim heard by a trial by jury. This means that twelve ordinary citizens will decide how serious your injury is and how much money you are entitled to in damages. Because jurors are not medical experts or lawyers, their decision is often based largely on their feelings toward you and your case—and a sympathetic jury can make a significant difference in your case.
There is no exact formula for whether a jury will have sympathy for you or not. However, there are factors that come up over and over, and an experienced personal injury lawyer will have a good sense of how sympathetic your case is. Some of the biggest factors that lead to jury sympathy include:
- How much damage did the car sustain? If your claim involves a car accident, the condition of the car matters. Most juries have a hard time believing injuries are serious if the car does not look damaged. This isn’t logical—you can sustain serious injuries even if the car is barely dented—but it remains a major factor for jury sympathy.
- How visual is your injury? Similarly, injuries that are clearly visible evoke much more sympathy from jurors. This can work against you if you have a serious but not visible injury, such as severe neck and back pain or a head injury that affects your cognitive abilities. It can also work in your favor if you have an injury that appears serious at a glance. If your injury is not visible, a good lawyer will help illustrate it to the jury and make clear how serious it is.
- What is your personality like? Many plaintiffs are surprised to hear that their personality matters, but it does. If you seem like someone the jurors would like to have as a next door neighbor, they will feel far more sympathy for you and generally award more money. Generally this means that you are friendly, confident, and not too aggressive in describing what happened and who is at fault. It can also mean keeping an optimistic perspective toward your injury.
Exactly what will cause sympathy varies from juror to juror. In some cases, juries can also have prejudice which works like the opposite of sympathy, devaluing your claim. Your lawyer has the right to vet juries before the trial in a process called voir dire. An experienced lawyer will work to remove any clearly biased jurors and make your case as sympathetic as possible, whether it’s for a car accident, slip and fall injury, defective medical device or any other kind of injury.
In many cases, sympathy can be a factor even if you don’t go to trial. If your case is likely to evoke sympathy from a jury, the insurance company may want to avoid the risk of a jury trial and simply offer to pay you more up front.
Jury sympathy and bias is not always fair. In a perfect world, you would be awarded the full amount you deserve based solely on your injury and the law. But the reality is that a good lawyer makes all the difference in how much your case is worth. That’s why we recommend speaking to an attorney as soon as possible after any accident.
Have you been involved in an accident? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.