Washington D.C. Jury Instructions Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are assigned jury duty, the judge will read to you the jury instructions – his or her “charge” to the jurors. The instructions are the rules that jurors should follow when deciding a case.
In Washington D.C., Chapter 13 of the Standardized Civil Jury Instructions elicits the damages that can be awarded in a negligence or wrongful conduct case.
The first, and most obvious thing for which damages should be awarded is the extent and duration of physical injuries suffered. For example, compensation for a broken leg (and three months of physical therapy) will likely be greater than compensation for a sprained ankle (and one month of physical therapy).
Other common verdicts cover compensation for any loss of earnings, any damage or loss to property, and any medical expenses incurred in the past or that may occur in the future.
Additional damages include restitution for the effect of the physical injuries on overall physical and emotional well-being, any physical pain and emotional distress suffered in the past or that the injured party may suffer in the future, any disfigurement or deformity suffered and its accompanying humiliation or embarrassment, and loss of consortium (marital services, love, affection, etc.)
Of course, to win the case, attorneys must prove negligence or wrongful conduct, and that the negligence of the person being sued caused the injury. In many cases, expert testimony is needed to do so, but there are three exceptions. The first is that the injury develops within “reasonable time” after the accident. The second exception is that “causation is clearly apparent.” The third is that “the cause of injury relates to matters of common experience knowledge.” Let’s say you’re driving. The light turns green, so you press on the gas. Another driver flies through a red light, t-boning your car, and injuring you. In this case, the other driver running the red light caused the injury, and he or she should be held liable. Thus, expert testimony is unnecessary.
Interestingly, the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injury even if a prior injury disability or other condition made the plaintiff more likely than a normal person to suffer an injury because of negligence/wrongful conduct. Let’s say the plaintiff, who suffers from brittle bone disease, was in an accident and broke his ankle. In that same accident, someone who didn’t suffer from the disease would have bruised his ankle. Even though the plaintiff’s pre-existing disease contributed to the severity of the injury, the defendant is still legally responsible for the broken ankle.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence or wrongful conduct, call the experienced attorneys at Cohen & Cohen today for a free case evaluation!