In a medical malpractice or accident trial, why do you have to tell the jury how much longer you are expected to live?
When your personal injury case goes to trial, while making arguments about damages, your lawyer will focus on compensation and on the harms and losses you have suffered. The lawyer will need to show to the judge and the jury, your life expectancy. You might wonder, why the jury would want to know your expected life span?
Why should the Jury Know about Your Life Expectancy?
There is a critical reason for this, especially when your lawyer is talking about the pain and suffering you have to endure. Ultimately, the jury will have to determine if the individual or company that you have sued is legally responsible for your injuries. If the person or entity is held responsible, then on the issue of damages, two components to pain and suffering have to be addressed.
The first component is past pain and suffering, which is the suffering you have endured from the time of the wrongdoing until the time of trial. This finite period can be clearly determined. However, what happens if you have ongoing disabling injuries that are going to affect you for the rest of your life. This is also something the jury has to take into account, which is second component of pain and suffering.
Standard Statistical Life Expectancy Tables
To determine this period, you will have to look at standard statistical life expectancy tables to evaluate your current age and the age up to which you are expected to live based upon the given statistics and medical information. Hence, in the jury’s verdict, the jury will have to indicate how many years that particular verdict applies for your future pain and suffering.
For instance, based upon medical testimony you are expected to have the disabling injuries for the rest of your life. Then the law requires that the judge and jury know how much longer you are expected to live. If according to the standard life expectancy tables you are expected to live for another thirty years, then the jury will calculate your compensation for pain and suffering for the next thirty years.
Similarly, your injuries might need ongoing treatment or you might need rehabilitative care for the rest of your life. The jury, while calculating your economic loss, will have to calculate a figure that can compensate you for these expenses. It is not possible to arrive at such a figure without knowing how long you are going to live. For instance, if your medical expenses are going to be around $60,000 annually on an average after considering inflation and other related factors, then the jury might calculate part of your compensation to be $1,800,000 (30 years x $60,000). This figure will then be added to the losses you have already suffered, and the past and future pain and suffering.
So this number will be higher than $1,800,000 after those calculations are made.
Therefore, when your injuries are of an ongoing nature or if they have left you with some disability that might limit your income, then it is important for the jury to know your life expectancy.