How Do Victims and Jurors Connect in Personal Injury Cases?

The Metier Law Firm is here to helpEvery morning, the children of the Brockman family get up and get ready for school. They used to enjoy that time with both their mother and father, but that all changed in 2013. That’s when a terrible crash left Mendy Brockman with quadriplegia. Now she someone must be around to help care for her at almost every moment of the day, which is why her family has sought help from the civil justice system. But can the loss that this family has suffered be communicated to a jury during such a personal injury case?

How Do Traffic Accidents Turn into a Personal Injury Cases?

Mendy and her husband Jason were driving down Interstate 25—close to Castle Rock—on July 5, 2013 when their car was suddenly struck. A driver making a U-turn, crossed two lanes of traffic and slammed into the passenger side of the Brockman’s 1994 Honda. The car rolled over several times before coming to rest in the median of the road. Jason—who had been driving—made a full recovery, but Mendy had suffered a broken neck causing paralysis in most of her body.

The mother of four lost most of her ability to help her family, and must now rely on help to do basic tasks like getting out of bed in the morning and getting dressed. This has kept her from participating in her children’s lives as she once did, and forced her family to hire aides to help Mendy get through her day-to-day tasks.

In order to make ends meet, and to see that justice was done, the Brockman family turned to our law firm’s very own Tom Metier for help. Together with co-counsel Jim Gilbert, the family filed a personal injury claim against the driver of the vehicle that struck them, as well as product liability claims against Honda Motor Co., AGC Flat Glass, and Takata. Before trial, both Honda and AGC settled for undisclosed amounts, however, the remaining defendants took the case to court where the Brockman’s faced a new challenge.

Why Communicating with the Jury During Personal Injury Cases Is Important?

The jury assigned to this case was composed primarily of people who were under the age of 30. Among these jurors, only one was married, none had children, and one juror was pregnant. For Tom, this created a problem because most of the jurors didn’t have the life experiences necessary to understand what Mendy had lost when she was paralyzed.

To solve this problem, Tom developed several strategies to help improve communication with the jury. He utilized “a day in the life of…” videos to show what it was like in the Brockman household and during the testimony of Mendy’s aid, Tom used video to help paint a clear picture of loss for the jury. Further testimony from friends and family also helped the jury to understand the loss this incident had incurred, and so the jury awarded $52 million to the Brockman family.

This verdict was reached after a two-week trial that attributed 50 percent of fault to the driver that struck the Brockmans, and 50 percent fault to Honda and AGC for defective safety systems—Takata was not found liable.

For more info on this story, check out this article from the American Association for Justice.