Regardless of what zip code people hail from, humans think with a combination of logic and emotion. In a jury trial, the application of these matters greatly.
In a personal injury trial, judges give jurors instructions on how to decide the verdict. Generally, these are given at the end of the trial, and are always given orally. Sometimes judges will write them down and hand them out as well.
These instructions cover all the aspects of the jury's deliberations. They explain how the jurors should deliberate, how they should weigh the evidence and the witness testimonies. Also, the instructions will explain the law as it pertains to the case in a lot of detail. Relevant laws that pertain to the specific case will be included, such as laws that factor in at a stop light if the car accident was caused by someone running a red light.
One of the most important things a judge will tell the jury is that they have to make their decisions strictly according to the law. This means that even if they don't agree with the law, they've still got to apply it to the circumstances of the case and let that guide their decision. This is one of the fundamental principles of our legal system. In order to consider a trial successful, everyone must assume that jurors applied the law accurately and didn't let emotion sway their decision.
However, human nature tells us jurors will follow their hearts to some degree. Jurors will apply the law, common sense, and emotion to their decisions - it's unreasonable to expect anything different. Plaintiffs' lawyers know this, and they know that if their case contains a strong emotional appeal, they've got a better chance of winning.
What are some things that create emotional appeal to a jury, you may wonder. Think of your own heart. If you were a juror, would you feel stronger emotions if your case had any of these factors?
- permanent and/or serious injuries. Typically a permanent injury like paralysis can be awarded more money than even a wrongful death case.
- an injury to a child
- pictures of the injury. But not so many that cause jurors to feel overwhelmed or manipulated.
- proof of lies that someone tried to cover up what they did
- a pleasant, good upstanding citizen with a good family
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