Several counties in California have begun to reopen their Courts as concerns over the current pandemic are beginning to relax. These changes to court protocol change rapidly and frequently and as we resume jury trials; law firms need to take into consideration the potential effect Juror psychology may have changed during this Pandemic.
DecisionQuest, a Legal Support company has conducted a survey on 896 jury-eligible residents through a 90-item questionnaire composed largely of tested questions from past DecisionQuest research. Additionally, the company included three brief case summaries and asked respondents what they felt would be reasonable verdicts and damages in each. These types of changes in juror psychology must be studied and considered when determining potential liability and settlement value to make the most informed decision possible when handling your company’s legal issues.
DecisionQuest looked to the correlation between life disruption and damages awarded by jurors and found that the more people reported their lives have been disrupted, the higher the damages they would award. In light of the stay at home order and skyrocketing unemployment rates, it would be fair to state that the average citizens life has faced immense disruption and with that, a comfort in awarding higher damages.
Although we have not seen the true effect the pandemic will have on juror decision making, we can predict that juror opinion may change in regards to medical damages and experts as well. With the medical community and particularly, Dr. Fauci – the medical director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – being a central topic in political discussions we may see the political stance of jurors effect their interpretation and willingness to agree with medical experts in trial. Some jurors may now interpret medical expert opinions to be gross exaggerations of risk or causation, or possibly the opposite in now giving incredible weight to medical opinions.
Lastly, with stats regarding Covid-19 deaths being broadcasted to the general public daily, jurors may interpret much more limited numbers in strict liability deaths to not be as serious. When faced with torts claims against your company it in imperative that you contact an attorney who is knowledgeable in juror psychology to give you the best estimate for potential liability and predictions for jury awards in light of this unprecedented time in our Country.