Here are the three questions they must answer...
- Was the defendant negligent?
- Was the defendant's negligence a proximate cause of your injury?
- How much money do you give the plaintiff for all the harms, losses & damages she suffered?
Those are the three basic questions the jury will have to answer.
There are often more questions, but for now, I only want to talk about the three most important ones.
Ok, here's the scenario...
You sued your doctor.
For medical malpractice.
You believe he was careless.
You believe his wrongdoing caused you harm.
You claim your harm is permanent.
You find an attorney in NY to help you.
He sends your records to a board certified medical expert.
The expert confirms (1) there was wrongdoing by your doctor, (2) his carelessness was a cause of your injury and (3) your injury is significant.
Now you can proceed forward with a lawsuit.
You needed confirmation from a medical expert that you had a valid case before being allowed to start a medical malpractice case.
Now you've gotten confirmation.
Your doctor disagrees.
He says he did nothing wrong.
He says you caused your own injuries.
Even if he did something wrong, he claims your injuries are not that bad.
There are clear disputes here.
You say black.
Your doctor says white.
You say it's day.
Your doctor says it's night.
Your doctor and his insurance company are not going to settle your case.
They're not ever going to offer you a dime.
That means your case is going to trial.
To a verdict.
That means a jury of six people in the community will sit in judgment.
They will decide whether you are more likely right than wrong.
If you are, great. You'll likely win in that instance.
If you're not. Not so great. You'll likely lose your case.
But to get to a 'verdict' what exactly does the jury have to do?
After the trial, does the jury simply stand up and say "We like her case, therefore we think she wins!"
Uh...no. That's not how it works. That's not how any of it works.
Here's what the jury has to do.
They have to answer a series of questions.
Questions that the judge gives to them.
The answers determine whether you win or lose.
You also need to know that the jury does not need to sit in court for days and weeks trying to make sure that what you are claiming is true.
Instead, they only have to determine whether you are more likely right than wrong that what you are claiming is true.
The first question the judge tells the jury they must answer is:
"Was the defendant negligent?"
What that really means is "Was the doctor careless?"
If the jury determines that your doctor was NOT careless, then you lose.
Then your case is over.
If the jury says that your doctor was careless then they must continue on and answer the second question.
The second question is whether there is a link between his carelessness and the injuries you suffered.
In law, we call that proximate cause.
In other words, there must be a connection between the wrongdoing and your injury.
There must be some sort of bridge between the two.
If there isn't, then you lose.
You go home without any money.
If however the jury finds that there is a connection between your doctors' carelessness and your injury then the jury MUST continue to answer the third question.
The jury is asked "Was the defendant's negligence a proximate cause of your injury?"
The third question is about money.
How much money you are to receive as compensation for all the harms and losses you suffered.
That's known as damages.
There are different types of damages that I'll discuss another day.
Suffice it to say that there are damages that run from the time of the wrongdoing up until trial.
There are also damages that will exist from the time of trial into the forseeable future.
Such as future pain and suffering.
Such as future lost income.
Such as future medical bills.
If the jury has answered "Yes" to the first two questions, then the only remaining question(s) will be how much money you receive to compensate you.
To learn more about the first question the jury must answer, I invite you to watch the quick video below...