You sued your doctor for medical malpractice.
You claim that his carelessness caused you significant and permanent injury. Your lawyer hired a board certified medical expert to confirm you had a valid case. In fact, your medical expert confirmed that your doctor was careless. He confirmed that his carelessness caused your injuries. He also confirmed that your injuries are permanent.
That allowed your attorney to proceed forward with a lawsuit on your behalf here in New York.
The defense refused to negotiate.
Your doctor claimed he did absolutely nothing wrong.
He claimed that whatever he did, did NOT cause your injuries.
Besides, he argued, your injuries are not that bad.
"We'll see you in court," his attorney told your attorney.
That means you'll be going to trial.
Two years later, your case finally comes up for trial.
Your lawyer puts on one witness after another to show to the jury that you are more likely right than wrong that you're entitled to a verdict in your favor.
After all your witnesses have testified, the defense puts on their witnesses.
They bring in two medical experts to testify.
They bring in some of the nurses and doctors who treated you.
Then, it's time for closing arguments.
Your trial has lasted almost two weeks.
Two weeks of being on an emotional roller coaster.
Two weeks of sitting in court watching people talk about you and the actions they took.
You are drained.
After closing arguments the judge explains the law.
That takes almost an hour.
Then the judge tells the jury they must answer a series of legal questions in order to reach their verdict.
The answers to those questions will be their verdict.
This is known as the verdict sheet.
The first question they must answer is...
"WAS THE DEFENDANT NEGLIGENT?"
Yes or No?
What this really asks is whether your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
Yes or no.
If the answer is no, your case is over and you get nothing.
If the answer is yes, the jury is told to go to question #2.
The second question is...
"WAS THE DEFENDANT'S NEGLIGENCE A PROXIMATE CAUSE OF YOUR INJURY?"
That question asks whether there is a link, a connection, between the wrongdoing and your injury. There must be some type of bridge or link between the two. In law, we call that proximate cause. "What was the series of events that led you here today," is another way to explain the need to have that link between your doctors' carelessness and your injury.
If the answer is no, your case is over and you get no money to compensate you for your harms and losses.
If the answer is yes, the jury is then REQUIRED to answer a series of questions about how much you are to receive for all your damages and injuries.
Some of those questions would be...
"HOW MUCH DO YOU GIVE THE PATIENT FOR HER PAST PAIN AND SUFFERING?"
"HOW MUCH DO YOU GIVE THE PATIENT FOR HER FUTURE PAIN AND SUFFERING?"
"OVER HOW MANY YEARS IS THAT AMOUNT TO COVER FOR THE FUTURE?
"FOR HER PAST MEDICAL EXPENSES, HOW MUCH IS SHE TO RECEIVE?"
"FOR HER FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES, HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU GIVE HER?"
"FOR HER LOST WAGES IN THE PAST, HOW MUCH MONEY IS SHE TO RECEIVE?"
Let's get back to the question I raised in the headline of this article.
Let's say the jury has determined that YES, your doctor violated the standard of care. That means you have shown your doctor is liable for his actions. Then, let's say the jury has now gone on to the second question. They have determined that YES, your injuries are a direct result of your doctors' carelessness.
That means you have established liability and causation.
It's now time for the jury to determine HOW MUCH money you are to receive for all the harms, losses and damages you incurred.
The jury inexplicably determines that you are entitled to ZERO. NADA. NOTHING.
Nothing for any of your injuries.
Is that possible?
The answer is that yes, it's possible a jury could reach that conclusion.
If that happens, you now have an inconsistent verdict.
You will have had witnesses testify about the extent of your permanent injuries and how disabling they are.
You will have testified about how your injuries have affected you on a daily basis.
You will have explained how your injuries limit you from performing your daily activities.
If the jury returns a verdict where they give you NO MONEY, that would be inconsistent with the testimony.
It's really inconceivable.
It makes no sense.
In that instance, your attorney will ask the judge to throw out the damages portion of the verdict as being inconsistent with the weight of the evidence. If he agrees, you will have a new trial on damages to determine how much money you are to receive to fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries.
If the judge does not set aside that portion of your verdict, your lawyer will likely appeal and ask the Appellate court to throw out the damages portion of your verdict as being against the weight of the evidence.
Think of it this way...
The jury has determined that your doctor caused you harm.
Once that happens, they are then obligated to give you money to fully compensate you.
They may choose to give you $1 dollar.
They may choose to give you $10 million dollars.
That's their choice.
But the point is that they must give you something that they feel is appropriate.
If they give you NOTHING, there's a problem.
A big problem that needs to be corrected.
To learn more about this topic, watch the quick video below...