Go to navigation Go to content

Why are juries allowed to award money?


A: Our system of justice requires that a 'jury of our peers' evaluate our civil claims. The thinking behind a jury determining how much to award comes from the sense of community that each jury brings to jury deliberations. There will be high numbers and low numbers and many times there are no numbers, where a jury has rejected a person's damages claim. Jurors are told to use their common sense when evaluating a case, and to use the evidence as well. There are multiple types of damages that juries award. The most obvious is economic loss. What the person has lost in income, and what they can expect to lose in income in the future. Economic loss includes not just your salary, but your fringe benefits, health insurance premiums, and your medical bills. Another element of damages if pain and suffering. This is a more difficult segment and jurors must determine whether the damages are significant and how they affect the person in their daily lives. We usually say that damages are not what a person is left with, but what has been taken from them that is most tangible to put a figure on. What are the damages in the past? And, what type of pain and suffering can this person be expected to experience in the forseeable future? Judges do not set a range for what juries can or cannot award. Juries are told to use their common sense. The plaintiff's attorney (me) will usually suggest a number or a range in which to make an award. The defense will usually either not suggest a number and claim the injured victim doesn't deserve anything, or they will suggest an artificially low number to place this into the jurors minds as almost a 'high-low' scenario that the jury can choose from. Regardless of what the jury awards, there are always requests to the trial judge to reduce an award, and there are always appeals that can and are made to reduce any award further.