Can A Judge Change Or Alter The Amount Of A Jury’s Award?
Let’s say that you go to trial, and the jury enters an award for you. You aren’t happy with the award—maybe you think it’s too low (that is, not enough or sufficient compensation for your injuries). On the other hand, maybe the defendant thinks what the jury awarded was too much—that the verdict should be lowered.
Can you—or the other side—simply ask the court to overturn the jury’s award? Normally, the answer is no. In a jury trial, the jury has the ultimate say on decisions of fact, and it is not for a court to second guess a jury, and, after the fact, alter the jury’s award. But there are times when a court can do just that.
Changing the Amount the Jury Awarded
Although the jury has almost unlimited ability to award as much or as little as it wants to, the jury also must make sure that its award is in line with the evidence presented at the trial. If an award has no evidentiary support, it can be altered—lowered—or even raised, if the award was insufficient.
For example, let’s say that a jury gives you $100,000 for pain and suffering. There’s almost nothing a judge can do, to disturb that finding. So long as you present evidence of your injuries and your pain, the jury can award $10, $100,000 or $1 million, depending on what it feels is reasonable.
But, let’s say that your doctor said you were fully healed, but the jury awarded you $100,000 for future medical expenses related to the injuries suffered in your accident. Now, the jury is making an award that has no evidentiary basis in the record. That verdict now may be lowered.
Raising a Jury’s Award
The same thing can happen when a verdict is too low. Let’s say that someone is paralyzed. It is absolutely obvious that a paralysis victim is going to have ongoing medical expenses for the rest of his or her life. If a jury were to award $1 million for past medical expenses, but nothing for future medical expenses, the victim could ask the judge to increase the award—it makes no sense to not give a paralysis victim no money for future medical expenses.
All this is why it matters so much to present every bit of evidence that you have at your personal injury trial. These can include medical bills, doctors’ testimony or testimony from friends and family about your pain, suffering, or change in the quality of your life because of your injuries. A jury can award damages for just a little bit of evidence. But it can’t award damages, when there is no evidence of damages in the record.
We try personal injury cases, when needed. Call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas Nunez Sanders Butler & Hovsepian today. Schedule a consultation today.