Verdict

decisionFormally, Black’s Law Dictionary defines verdict as “a declaration of the truth as to matters of fact submitted to jury.” More clearly, the U.S. Courts define it as “the decision of a trial jury or a judge that determines the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant.” It can also refer to the decision “that determines the final outcome of a civil case.”

Example Sentence

The jury returned with the final verdict on the case.

Case Study

Mr. Campbell caused an accident that led to the death and serious injury of two people. After being found 100% at fault, the court found him responsible for $135,000 in damages. His insurance compa ny, State Farm, refused to pay that amount. Instead, it suggested that the Campbell’s sell their house to pay that amount. Eventually, State Farm paid the amount. However, the Campbell’s filed a lawsuit against the company. They argued that State Farm repeatedly used this technique to avoid paying for the losses of others. The jury found State Farm at fault for using this deceptive practice and awarded the Campbell’s a huge amount of money in their verdict. The appeals court lowered the amount of the verdict. But, the Utah Supreme Court agreed with the jury. However, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with State Farm that the verdict amount was excessive. It ordered the Utah Supreme Court to redo the verdict amount. It did and reached a final verdict much lower than the original amount.

Important Information

A verdict will either favor the defendant or theplaintiff. However, in civil cases the jury must determine what percent each party was at fault. This then determines if the defendant must pay the plaintiff any awards and how much. Courts use many different types of verdicts. We have listed some below with a basic description from Cornell Law School’s website.

  • Compromise – members of the jury agree to compromise their stances on specific items to avoid deadlock
  • Defective – problems with the verdict leading the judge to ask for the jury to try again or declare a mistrial
  • Directed – the trial judge decides the case on her own believing a jury would not come to a different conclusion because of the facts
  • General – jury states who should win the case without addressing each specific issue
  • Special – the jury lists its findings on each issue of the case without saying which party should win

If your case goes through arbitration, you can appeal the decision. This new case is called a trial de novo. Certain limits apply to the minimum or maximum verdict you can receive in this type of trial. Click here to see the type of verdicts we have received for our clients.

Photo “Jury selection” copyright by Mike Faulk.

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