I’ve been thinking a lot lately about litigation and trial. Now I know you’re probably thinking…”how unusual that an attorney would think about those things when it’s part of their every day life”. Well, that may be true, but primarily I’ve been thinking about the things that average people don’t know about the litigation process.
As an example, too often people tend to think that if someone gets injured in an auto accident that they just hit the lottery. The law does not help this perception as jurors will receive an instruction indicating that the monetary compensation decided upon is an “award”. It’s a horrible misnomer. In reality, it is very difficult for a person to receive honest and just compensation in a personal injury action. I know that societally there is an immense amount of exposure given to those rare cases that result in multi million dollar verdicts.
In general, for an individual to receive a multi million dollar verdict there is going to be injury that is so horrible that the money merely makes life tolerable. There certainly isn’t any aspect of an “award” to the money. In reality, the vast majority of cases that we see are those where the individual has sustained injury involving tearing of the ligaments or musculature. Maybe they ended up having a disc in their back or neck injured.
The fact is that these types of injuries can be unending and extremely painful. Muscles and ligaments that are torn don’t ever really recover. They develop scar tissue and are often permanent which results in the injured person spending the rest of his or her life in pain at one level or another (and this can vary on a day to day basis). I can tell you that in my experience, I have never had any client go through this process and say that the money made the injury worth it. The most common comment I get from clients is that they would give up every cent if they could just have their health back. So much for getting an award…