Touching the human heart is a powerful weapon any attorney can wield in their arsenal during the jury selection process. Most people don’t realize the extent to which personal injury or medical malpractice can truly affect a person’s life. It’s up to the attorney to illustrate the pains of their clients to the jury. This begins as early as Voir dire. Touching the heartstrings of jurors to feel empathy will aid in the preferred verdict.
It all starts with a question – “Are you okay with putting value on life that was lost?” In personal injury and medical malpractice cases, clients lose their quality of life. Daily tasks become laborious, often asking for help from family and friends. This question shakes the human heart and stirs it into motion. In a trip and fall case taken by Frekhtman & Associates, which resulted in a $525k Verdict from CRPS signs, they encouraged the jurors to be talkative and brutally honest. This was followed up by questions about quality of life. The plaintiff in this case will not be restored to her condition before the incident, and some injuries and accidents cannot have a price put on. There is no price to the loss of quality of life, but there is a value.
Hence, we circle back to the question, “Are you okay with putting value on life that was lost?” The attorneys of this case emphasized the difficulty of living with pain for the client, and how they lost their ability to enjoy previous activities that served as an escape from their turbulent life. Additionally, it is commonplace to ask anyone on the jury if they have experience with the injury/accident. Someone may have a family member, and it is up to the attorney to explain how there are different life experiences. In this case, the client is a young woman who developed CRPS and must deal with along life of pain compared to a juror’s grandmother who developed it in old age and is past retirement age.
Language is paramount. Be insistent on the type of language used in choosing jurors. In Robinson V. Party City, the attorneys were adamant about using the language “quality of life” over “damages.” The reason is that their client, Robinson, needed knee surgery after falling at Party City. At first, it doesn't sound like much just hearing “trip and fall.” However, the attorneys of this case knew how to drive the point of Robinson’s loss of quality of life over damages owed. Robinson needed help getting into the tub, would call for her husband to carry her, and wept and lost sleep due to the pain at night.
The emphasis of this case was on the company’s negligence and responsibility, on top of the client’s resilience. Hence, less focus on the “damages” caused and more on the “quality of life” impacted.
Both cases above have the same theme: emphasize the value behind the quality of life. Behind personal injury and medical malpractice cases are complex jargon and piles of complicated documentation. What will touch the jurors is the heart of the case, simplified for them to understand through visuals and pathos-based statements.
Be open to being inclusive for jury selection. This starts with having an open conversation with them. Let the jurors talk, be clear and transparent, and listen attentively to their answers.
It is up to the attorney to impact the juror’s hearts to feel empathy for what the clients are going through.