Determining the Potential Value of Your Claim: Question 1
Most jurors are kind and generous people, but they have been taught to be skeptical of an injured plaintiff. Over the past 20 years, the insurance industry has spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars engaging in an all-out public relations war against innocent people who have been injured by careless drivers and corporate wrongdoers. The insurance industry runs TV commercials and news reports portraying injured victims as “fakes” who are trying to get something for nothing.
They call personal injury lawsuits “frivolous,” and when they see a surprisingly large verdict, they blame “runaway juries” without explaining the egregious circumstances that motivated the jury to reach the verdict. Attorneys who represent injured people are called “greedy trial lawyers.” While there are always people who will abuse the system and there will always be some lawyers who are greedy, for the most part, this caricature is a fiction. However, over time, the smear campaign has been quite effective, and the typical jury is on high alert to make sure that they are not duped into awarding money to an undeserving plaintiff.
It’s Important to Earn a Jury’s Trust
How do you overcome this bias? Trust! The jury wants to know whether the plaintiff is a “stand-up citizen” who would not lie to them and would never fake an injury. Studies show that sub-consciously, jurors want to see a plaintiff who is like them—or at least, someone who they can relate to. Jurors want to know whether the injured person worked a regular job before they were injured. If not, were they taking care of children or doing something else responsible for their lives? Did the injured victim pay taxes? Do you have morals and values? Do you care for your family? Do you have a criminal background? Jurors will look at you and your lifestyle and get a feel for whether you are the kind of people they can relate to. If you are, then they will be looking for reasons to believe your version of the facts. If not, then they will reject your story or conclude that you are not worthy of compensation.
Lawyers and insurance adjusters know that this is what jurors do. Thus, every case valuation starts with the injured plaintiff himself because the character, personality and life choices of the person seeking compensation goes a long way towards determining what a jury will likely do with the evidence in the case.