You've sued your doctor.
For medical malpractice.
You claim he was careless.
You claim his carelessness caused you injury.
Your doctor says no, no, no.
"I did nothing wrong."
He says "Even if I did something wrong, so did you."
Then, to add salt to your wound says, "Anyway, your injury is not as bad as you claim."
That means your case will go to trial.
To a verdict.
A jury will have to decide if you're more likely right than wrong.
Six members of the community will be deciding.
Six people who have told your attorney that they can be fair and impartial.
But how exactly does a jury reach a verdict?
What do they actually do to come to reach the conclusion that you are entitled to a favorable outcome?
There's a lot they do.
Toward the end of your trial, the attorneys give closing arguments.
The defense attorney goes first.
Your attorney, the plaintiff's attorney, goes next.
Your attorney gets the last word in.
The judge gets the last word.
After the attorneys have given their closing arguments, the judge has the court officer lock the courtroom door.
It's not to keep people from going out.
Rather, it's to make sure that nobody comes in and interrupts the judge's legal instructions.
Those instructions can take up to an hour.
Those are critically important.
The judge tells the jury what 'negligence' is.
The judge explains to the jury what 'medical malpractice' is.
These are known as jury interrogatories.
The answers to these legal questions form the basis for the jury's verdict.
After the judge has finished giving the jury the law in NY, the jury is told to go into the jury deliberations room and choose a foreperson.
Then, start talking about the case.
"WAS THE DEFENDANT DOCTOR NEGLIGENT?"
That is typically the first question the jury must answer.
The 'defendant' is the doctor you have sued.
Negligence refers to medical negligence.
Carelessness of a medical professional.
Legally, we ask our experts whether your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
If the answer is yes, then what the expert is really saying is that your doctor was careless.
He was negligent.
It is up to the jury to decide if your doctor was careless.
Even though there will be competing experts and other witnesses who testify for or against the doctor, the jury must make the ultimate decision about who is more believable.
This very first question is critical.
If the jury decides that your doctor was NOT negligent, your case is over.
You will go home without a dime.
If the jury determines that your doctor did NOT violate the basic standards of care, it doesn't matter what injury you received.
The jury will have rendered a verdict for the defense.
That means you lose.
On the other hand, if the jury decides that your doctor WAS negligent, then they are REQUIRED to answer the next question.
Before I get to that, you should know that the first question concerning your doctor's negligence is known as the liability question.
It determines if your doctor is liable or legally responsible.
If the jury answers 'yes', they must now answer the causation question.
Causation is the link that connects his wrongdoing with your injury.