Yet they gave you a substantial amount of money for the pain you already endured from the time of malpractice until trial.
How could that happen?
You know what we call that?
An inconsistent verdict.
A verdict that makes no sense.
A verdict that has everyone scratching their heads wondering if the jury was listening to the same testimony as you did.
The result is inconsistent with the the evidence.
It's really inconceivable.
So here's the scenario...
You believe that your injuries are permanent.
You sued your doctor and his group.
For medical malpractice.
Your doctor, after getting the lawsuit papers says "I DID NOTHING WRONG! WHY DID YOU SUE ME?"
Then he argues that whatever he did, did NOT cause you harm or injury.
Then he says "You, the patient, also caused your own injury."
Then, to make matters worse, claims that "Anyway, your injuries are not as bad as you're claiming."
This has you fuming.
You say "Screw you."
The doctor says "Screw you. I'll see you at trial."
You proceed forward with your case.
Three years later, you get to trial.
Your lawyer puts on all the testimony and evidence to support your case.
Your goal is to show that you are more likely right than wrong that your claim is true.
Your medical experts testify.
There's uncontroverted testimony that you require narcotic pain pills to dull the pain.
There's uncontested testimony that this pain will last for the rest of your life and prevent you from your daily activities.
You know that if the jury decides in your favor, it will be a very substantial verdict.
Finally, your case has come to its end.
Two weeks of hard fought litigation.
Your attorney and the defense lawyer have made closing arguments.
The judge has now given the jury the law in New York as it applies to your case.
The jury has been told they must answer a series of questions to reach their verdict.
The first question is whether your doctor was negligent.
Was he careless?
If no, your case is over and you get nothing.
If yes, the jury must then answer the next question.
How much money do you give the injured patient for all of her damages?
There are many different types of damages.
There's lost wages.
There's medical bills.
There's pain and suffering.
There's lost opportunities and benefits.
Lawyers tend to separate damages into two distinct categories.
Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that can be calculated like how much money you lost in income because you couldn't work for three years.
Non-economic damages are more nebulous, like how much your pain is worth.
In this case, the jury decided that YES, your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care and was negligent.
The jury also decided that YES, his negligence was a cause of your injury.
The jury also decided that you are entitled to receive $5 million dollars for the pain and the suffering you endured over the past three years. We call that past pain and suffering. Yet for some unexplained reason, the jury decided that you are to receive NOTHING for your pain in the future.
HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN?
HOW COULD THE JURY DO THAT?
If they gave you money for your past pain and suffering, doesn't it make sense they'd do the same for the future?
If they gave you lost wages for twenty years into the future, doesn't it make sense that you'd be disabled and have pain into the future as well? Shouldn't you be compensated for that too?
The answer is YES, YOU SHOULD.
But they didn't.
That creates an inconsistent verdict.
Maybe, just maybe, the jury foreperson made a transcription error on the verdict sheet after everyone had agreed on what to give you for your future pain and suffering.
Your lawyer jumps up out of his seat and says "YOUR HONOR, I ASK YOU TO POLL THE JURY!"
What that really means is that your lawyer wants the judge to personally ask each juror whether this really represents their verdict.
"Juror #1 is that your verdict about how much to give this patient in the future for her pain and suffering?"
If the jury says "No, that's not what we agreed on," then the judge will ask what they agreed upon.
If there is a consensus and it was a simple clerical error placing the correct amount on the verdict sheet, the judge can correct the problem immediately and chalk it up to a simple administrative error transcribing the correct amount.
If the jury really intended to give you nothing for your future pain and suffering after already giving you money for your past pain and suffering, the judge may entertain a request to throw out that portion of the verdict denying you any money in the future. If he agrees to do that, he will likely tell the attorneys to have a new trial just on damages alone.
In all likelihood if he does that, he may narrow down the entire trial to just one element of damages... "How much money do you give this patient for her future pain and suffering?"