How to Respond to a Logically Inconsistent Jury Verdict in Your Pennsylvania Auto Accident Case
Once you find yourself going to court in an auto accident case, you likely hope for a straightforward trial in which your evidence clearly establishes your opponent’s liability and your entitlement to damages. Unfortunately, real life rarely plays out so seamlessly. Many twists and turns can take place during the course of your case. Trials, especially jury trials, can be unpredictable. This is one reason to have an experienced Pennsylvania car accident lawyer on your side from the start – so that you are ready for whatever your case throws at you.
One example of such an unexpected outcome is when a jury renders an inconsistent verdict, like what happened in a recent case that originated in Pittsburgh. In that case, Ronald’s truck rear-ended a vehicle driven by Kerim. Kerim sued Ronald for damages he suffered as a result of the collision.
Ronald admitted liability but fought the issue of damages. In some situations, establishing that the person you’ve sued is to blame for your damages is the key to the case. Other times, though, who is at fault isn’t the key to the case; proving how much harm you’ve suffered is.
In almost any personal injury case, there will likely be multiple components to your claim for damages. You may pursue awards for past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, lost wages, and disability. In Kerim’s case, he asserted damages claims both for pain and suffering and for lost wages. At trial, Kerim testified that he missed time at his job because he was in such extreme pain that he could not attend work.
The jury awarded Kerim damages for lost wages but nothing for pain and suffering. Clearly, there’s an internal inconsistency in that verdict. The verdict, taken at face value, indicated that the jury believed that the plaintiff suffered a serious enough injury that the resulting pain forced him to miss work, yet the jury decided that the plaintiff did not suffer any pain and suffering damages.
When you get an inherently inconsistent verdict like this, you do have options to address the problem. Kerim appealed, and he was successful. The Superior Court pointed out that, based upon the evidence at trial, the only basis that existed for Kerim’s missing work was his pain and pain medication. He testified that the only reasons he missed work were his pain and the dizziness that his pain medicine caused, which made him unable to drive. As the Superior Court explained, it was not possible to separate Kerim’s lost wages damages from his pain and suffering damages, since the lost wages were a direct result of the pain and suffering.
Once the jury awarded Kerim lost wages, that award inherently meant that the jury had to believe that he experienced pain and suffering. Awarding him nothing for pain and suffering was what’s called “against the weight of the evidence” and meant that Kerim was entitled to a reversal of the $0 pain and suffering award.
Whether your case seems like it will be complicated or straightforward, it pays to be prepared and to retain knowledgeable injury lawyers from the start. The diligent Pennsylvania auto accident attorneys at Needle Law Firm are here to help you respond to every surprise and “curveball” within your case and to continue pressing forward toward the damages award you deserve.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (570) 344-1266.