Money Damages Awarded by Florida Juries in Personal Injury Cases: Jury Instructions Established by Florida Supreme Court to Help Jury Calculate Money Amounts for Injury Damages
Posted By Alan Sackrin on September 10, 2013
Last Update: 01/18/16
When someone is seriously injured and a lawsuit is filed to recover compensation for those injuries, one of many Florida personal injury laws will apply to the case, including substantive laws (negligence, premises liability, negligent security, etc.) and also procedural laws which govern how the case moves from first being filed in the courthouse to the moment when the jury comes back with its verdict (and thereafter in the appellate process).
Florida Jury Instructions Given in Florida Personal Injury and Property Damage Cases
Florida procedure is organized statewide; over time, many trial procedures have been organized and streamlined not only for judicial efficiency but for other reasons, including fairness – the defendant in Tampa should expect to receive the same treatment by a jury as someone in Orlando or Key West, for example.
Accordingly, the Florida Supreme Court oversees the language and wording of the Instructions that are given to Florida juries and these are published and provided to courts and counsel in their final form after the High Court has debated and determined the proper wording of things (and after inviting commentary from anyone with an interest in doing so).
For example, right now the Florida Supreme Court has just closed the comments period for a proposed amendment that will remove Instruction 402.16 (dealing with Emergency Medical Treatment Claims) because of a corresponding law passed by the Florida Legislature (Florida Statutes Section 768.13(b)(3)), leaving Instruction 402.16 in Appendix D to the Civil Jury Instructions Book as reference for those jury trials which have cases under the law that was in effect before the effective date of this Florida Statute.
Florida Jury Instructions for General Negligence Case – Jury Decides on Money Amount Through Instructions
Florida Jury Instructions are detailed and complicated; however, one thing is clear – the jury decides on two main issues, liability and damages. First, the jury decides whether or not the defendant is liable to the plaintiff. Second, if the defendant has been found liable, then the jury proceeds to determine the damages to be assessed.
For instance, here is the Jury Instruction for Liability and Damages in a case involving personal injury and property damage (Instruction 501.1):
If your verdict is for (defendant), you will not consider the matter of damages. But if the greater weight of the evidence supports (claimant’s) claim, you should determine and write on the verdict form, in dollars, the total amount of [loss] [injury] [or] [damage] which the greater weight of the evidence shows will fairly and adequately compensate [him] [her] for [his] [her] [loss] [injury] [or] [damage], including any damages that (claimant) is reasonably certain to incur or experience in the future. You shall consider the following elements: ….
Elements of Damage to Be Considered in General Negligence Injury Damage Award
Florida Jury Instructions provides general damage elements. However, there are many other types of damages, e.g., punitive damages, wrongful death damages, damages when the plaintiff is a minor child, etc that are not included here. The following are given here merely as examples of damages that a jury may give in a money award under standard Florida Jury Instructions:
1. Injury, pain, disability, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life
Any bodily injury sustained by (name) and any resulting pain and suffering [disability or physical impairment] [disfigurement] [mental anguish] [inconvenience] [or] [loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life] experienced in the past [or to be experienced in the future]. There is no exact standard for measuring such damage. The amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.
2. Medical expenses
Care and treatment of claimant: The reasonable [value] [or] [expense] of [hospitalization and] medical [and nursing] care and treatment necessarily or reasonably obtained by (claimant) in the past [or to be so obtained in the future].
3. Lost earnings, lost time, lost earning capacity
When lost earnings or lost working time shown: [Any earnings] [Any working time] lost in the past [and any loss of ability to earn money in the future].
4. Spouse’s loss of consortium and services
On the claim brought by (spouse), you should award (spouse) an amount of money which the greater weight of the evidence shows will fairly and adequately compensate (spouse) for any loss by reason of [his wife’s] [her husband’s] injury, of [his] [her] services, comfort, society and attentions in the past [and in the future] caused by the incident in question.
Florida Jury Instructions are the springboard in any injury trial and no two trials are identical. What damages can be considered by a Florida jury and the amount of damages that can be assessed by that jury in an injury case is far from cookie-cutter applications of the examples in this post; there are many legal nuances to consider and fact patterns to apply to current law. Assessing the potential award in a case or reviewing the accuracy of an award already given needs careful analysis.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- What is My Injury Claim Worth and How Can I Get Maximum Compensation for My Injury Case?
- How Do Florida Juries Decide Damage Awards When The Victim Has A “Pre-Existing Condition?”
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.