“An adjudged case or decision of a court of justice, considered as furnishing an example or authority for an identical or similar case afterwards arising or a similar question of law” (Black’s Law Dictionary). “An opinion of a federal or state court of appeals establishing a legal principle or rule that must be followed by lower courts when faced with similar legal issues” (Nolo’s Law Dictionary). “A case or issue decided by a court that can be used to help answer future legal questions” (Cornell Law School).
Judge Mathews followed the precedent set by a higher court in deciding the case before him.
Andraya Nelson and her fiancée suffered terrible injuries as a result of a car swerving in front of them. They hired Christensen & Hymas to help her receive compensation for all of their losses. After three long years, a judge was able to see Andraya’s need for compensation. The judge awarded her with more compensation than the at-fault-party’s insurance policy limit. The recognition of her physical and mental suffering by the financial payout the judge awarded has set a precedent for other victims like Andraya. It is now easier for other judgments to award compensation that may exceed the insurance policy limit of drivers.
Other Important Information
Typically, courts will follow prior rulings by the court if it applies to the current case (known as state decisis), although sometimes courts will overturn previous rulings (Cornell Law School). Lower courts must follow higher court rulings, but higher courts do not need to follow lower courts (US Legal). Utah law requires performance evaluations of judges on multiple areas including their “adherence to precedent and ability to clearly explain departures from precedent” (Utah Code).
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