What is the Standard to Overturn a Jury’s Decision About Compensation in Personal Injury Cases

car-crash-1316724-1024x768If you ever suffer from a slip and fall, car accident, or other personal injuries you may be awarded compensation for your injuries by the court. The legal system relies on juries, as triers of fact, to determine damages suffered by parties, and the amount of compensation the injured person is entitled to. The jury’s obligation is to evaluate the facts in a reasonable manner and assign compensation. When the jury in a personal injury case renders a verdict and announces an award, that amount should not be amended unless there is an obvious error in the award.  See La.Civ.Code art. 2324.1

A recent Louisiana case shows this legal principle. Gene Bordelon, was involved in a rear end car accident with Leona Hayes in April of 2012. Bordelon suffered back injuries as the result of the accident. Leona Hayes was an employee working Cutting Edge, CMHC, Inc. at the time of the accident. Bordelon hired a great attorney, and at trial a jury awarded him $2,325,000 is his lawsuit for damages against Cutting Edge.

Cutting Edge appealed this decision made by the trial court. The company argued that the award amounts where abusively high. The appeals court noted upon review “we must find that no reasonable factual basis exists for the jury’s finding and that the finding is clearly wrong in order to reverse the jury’s award.”  Stobart v. State, through Dep’t of Transp. and Dev., 617 So.2d 880 (La.1993). In basic terms, The Appeals court should only overturn or change a jury’s verdict if it is clearly wrong, not merely if the court might have come to a different result.

During the trial, evidence was presented on both sides regarding Bordelon’s injuries. The court decided that the evidence presented was sufficient to allow a reasonable person to find the damages that the jury had decided. Therefore, the appeals court had no business changing the decision of the jury. Thus, the appeals court affirmed the judgment of the lower court.

While many personal injury cases are settled long before trial, when one does end up in court the trial process can be confusing. The basic process of a trial involves the presentation of evidence by both the one bringing the lawsuit, and the one responding to the lawsuit. The jury listens to the evidence presented by both sides as well as the arguments each side makes. The Judge then instructs the jury on how what it is to consider in making its determination. Following this the jury deliberates, returning with a judgement. Assuming there are no errors made during this process, the law typically assumes the decision made by the jury was valid decision. It must be overwhelmingly clear that an error was made for a court to change the decision of the jury.

If you suffer have suffered a personal injury as the result of a slip and fall, car accident, or other accident, you may be entitled to compensation. If your case makes it to court, the amount of that compensation will be determined by a jury. Make sure you seek the advice of a good attorney to ensure you are properly represented in your injury case.

Additional Sources: GENE BORDELON, JR., ET AL. VERSUS CUTTING EDGE, ET AL.

Written by Berniard Law Firm Blog Writer: Jacob Weil

Addtional Berniard Law Firm Blog Articles on Compensation for Personal Injuries in Louisiana: How Much Do Juries Award in Mesothelioma Lawsuits in Louisiana?