Taking a personal injury case into the jury verdict stage requires a lot of work. If you have ever been a part of a jury or participated in the legal system, you understand the system’s complexity. That is what happened earlier this year when one of our cases went to trial after three years of hard work.
Youd Law wants to help you better understand personal injury law by walking you through a recent case that ended with a rightfully-deserved jury verdict.
Oregon has a statute of limitations of two years on most personal injury cases, which varies around the country depending on state law. This statute requires any personal injury plaintiff to either settle the claim or file suit within two years. Getting to a place where a case is ready to be settled or have suite filed within two years can be very tricky in a many personal injury cases due to lengthy medical treatments, intricate insurance challenges and time consuming settlement negotiations.
Most every personal injury lawyer recommends settling out of court to the extent a fair and reasonable settlement can be reached. The following are a few of the reasons settlements can be preferable to taking a case to trial.
Top Reasons to Settle Out of Court
- You will usually receive your settlement more quickly. Going to trial takes a lot of time, which means more time without having that money in your pocket.
- Your attorney fee is higher when you go to trial because it takes significantly more time and work. As you make the decision in regard to whether to file suit, your legal team will layout the probable costs so you can determine if the costs are worth the likely result.
- Expert witness testimony can be very expensive, as well. Personal injury trials typically require expert opinions from treating physicians, other medical professionals and often engineers. Expert witness fees can reasonably cost several thousand dollars.
- Going to trial is stressful and can be more painful for a plaintiff than it’s worth. Going to trial is difficult. Most plaintiffs find testifying in front of a jury and relying upon the jury’s judgement to be anxiety-inducing.
As you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, you will compare the cost with the value of going to trial. In this particular case, offers of settlement did not come close to what we believed our client deserved. That is why we filed suit shortly before the two-year statute of limitation expired. The lead litigator on the case, Lance Youd, explained, “At the end of the day, the chance of obtaining more than what was being offered by the defense insurance company was ultimately worth it.” This case was unique. Let’s look at its finer details in order to explain what influenced the decision to file suit.
Exploring Emotional Trauma in Personal Injury Law
Our recent case was not cut and dry. The truth is that most personal injury cases are not cut and dry. The case included a multitude of unique issues, which made it difficult to settle out of court. The client had been in two automobile accidents when the client came to us looking for a personal injury attorney. The first claim for the first accident included the majority of the physical damage sustained by the client and was settled. The claim for the second accident included the majority of the emotional damages sustained by the client, due to the cumulative effect of both accidents. The second claim could not be settled.
In this particular case involving the claim for the second accident, there was very little damage to the car and the client’s physical health. The injuries were almost all psychological, resulting in severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
The uniqueness of the claim required creativity in preparing pleadings and working through the litigation. Rather than treat the accidents as separate cases, we took on the task of proving that the second case was responsible for a certain percentage of damages caused by both accidents. Lance and the Youd Law team then worked hard, developing an argument that supported the theory.
What complicated matters more was that Oregon and other states have historically not allowed emotional injury claims unless the person had also been physically injured in an accident. Oregon now has a number cases, including our case, where emotional damages without physical damages have been found to support a claim for damages. From the beginning, we argued that the client’s injuries sustained in the first accident were greatly aggravated by the second accident and that psychological injuries are as real as physical injuries.
In the end, the jury sided with our client and awarded a significant money judgment.
Looking Back at the Jury Verdict
Since the jury ruled in the case, we have had time to look back at the trial and learn from the experience. One of the main takeaways is that you can put a great deal of trust in a jury. Lance said of the experience, “For much of my career, I have seen how jury verdicts can be apparently random. A jury is a group of randomly drawn people on a particular day making judgments about the facts of a case that greatly impact other persons’ lives. This case confirmed my faith in the jury system. People are smart and can usually as a group come to a fair result.”
Another big takeaway from the case was that attorneys and clients should examine the impact the accident has on the client’s enjoyment of life. They should ask, how has this changed my life? Can I work? Am I anxious? What can I not do now that I could do before the accident? There is great value in having family and friends testify about changes in a person’s lifestyle.
I would add that injured persons should following their doctor’s recommendations. It is extremely beneficial for a client to go to every scheduled appointment, participate in prescribed therapies and generally follow through with recommendations of their medical team. It can be tiring, but it’s worth it. Juries can punish plaintiffs who do not take their recovery seriously and can reward plaintiffs who do their best.
Personal Injury Law with Youd Law
Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is key to getting the settlement or jury verdict you deserve. If you have been involved in an accident or need a legal representative, contact Youd Law today.