The quick answer is yes, they can.
Let me tell you why.
Let's say you've been injured because your doctor was careless. Your injuries are permanent. You've chosen to bring a lawsuit seeking money as a form of compensation for all the harms, losses and damages you suffered because of that wrongdoing.
When you start your lawsuit, your doctor can't believe you sued him. In his response to your legal papers he claims he did nothing wrong when treating you. He also says that nothing he did or didn't do caused you harm. Then, to make you feel even worse, he'll claim that you are somehow responsible for your own injuries.
On top of that, he's also going to argue that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
Those are the four typical defenses we see in these medical malpractice cases here in New York. Your doctor's attorney has made it clear that they will not negotiate and this case will never be resolved by settling your case.
What that really means is that a jury will have to decide if you are more likely right than wrong that your doctor caused you harm and injury. If the answer is yes, the jury will be required to compensate your for all your damages.
You should know that there are different types of damages.
They can be broken down into two categories.
Economic damages and non-economic damages. There are subcategories for each.
Economic damages involve lost wages, lost earning capacity, future loss of income. These are things that can be calculated. If you earned $50,000 and have been unable to work for the past two years because of your injuries, it's simple to see that you will have lost $100,000 worth of income during that time.
If you are unable to work into the future and you still have 20 years of work you could have done had you not been injured, then we can project out your earnings during that 20 years of work.
These are examples of economic losses.
Then, there are elements of damages that have no definable limits. For example, when we talk about your pain and the suffering you've endured, there's just no way to precisely calculate that amount. Your suffering may be different than someone else with the same type of injury. Your age may affect you worse than your neighbor who had the same problem. You may have other medical issues that make your condition worse than a younger person who suffers the same type of injury.
A jury must determine collectively what your pain and suffering is worth. They must use their common sense and their experience when deciding how much money to give you to compensate you for your harm.
Let's get back to the title of today's article.
Can a jury give you MORE than you're asking for? The answer is yes.
If the jury feels that you are entitled to receive MORE money, then they can give you more. They can give you much more.
If your attorney asks for a specific amount of money for your pain and suffering, the jury can decide that he didn't ask for enough. They can, on their own, decide to give you more. Your attorney's request for a specific amount of money is just a guideline.
"Ladies and gentlemen, for her past pain and suffering I ask you to consider whether $2 million is sufficient to compensate her for all she went through..."
The jury may decide that she should receive $5 million for that. Or more. Or less.
Likewise, the jury could decide that she is to receive LESS than what your attorney has suggested.
Regardless of what the jury ultimately decides to give you, you can be sure that the defense will object to that amount. The defense will ask the judge to throw out the verdict as being against the weight of the evidence. He's going to argue that your verdict is not supported by the testimony and evidence.
Even if the judge were to reduce your verdict, the defense would likely appeal that decision and ask the higher court to either throw out your verdict or significantly reduce it based on other similar cases.