Jury Instructions

While many personal injury cases will settle prior to trial, there are cases in which a settlement cannot be reached. This may be because the parties cannot agree on which party is responsible for causing the plaintiff’s injuries or the parties may not agree on an amount of compensation for damages suffered by the injured party. In those cases, there is often no alternative (assuming mediation as failed) other than to conduct a trial where a jury decides who is responsible for the injuries and how much compensation the injured party should receive for their damages, including pain and suffering, based on the facts of the particular case. One of the more important parts of a trial is the jury instructions. The jury instructions are made up of the language that the Judge will actually read to the jury that tells them what factors they should consider in deciding liability, what burden of proof they should apply, how to judge the credibility of witnesses, and of course, the elements that the plaintiff has to prove in order to recover for their injuries.

From the very beginning of a personal injury case, it is helpful to review the jury instructions for the particular type of cause of action that an injured party has against the defendant. At almost every stage of the litigation process, including the discovery process, depositions, and mediation, the question has to be asked, “will we be able to ultimately prove what is required?” That question can be answered by consulting the jury instruction that will be used at the trial and comparing them to the facts on hand in each particular case. The jury instructions will be read to the jury and given to them to take into the deliberation room. It is usually their final guide on how to apply the decisions they have made about the facts and the witnesses and whether what they believe to be true about the case actually amounts to them being able to take action under the law. It is critical that almost every decision made regarding a personal injury case is made with the jury instructions in mind to ensure that the case is strong and solid and can be confidently presented to a jury. If you’ve been injured as a result of the negligence of another, call Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation.

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