Court Reverses Decision to Grant Plaintiff New Trial

Parties often believe that a case is over when the trial ends. However, there are a number of avenues for relief for parties who are not satisfied with the result of their trial. Those avenues may result in granting a new trial altogether or even reversing the jury’s decision.

Neck X-rayIn a recent case, a man was in a car accident and filed a complaint against the defendant, alleging that he suffered injuries to his neck, back, and knee as a result, for which he sought compensation. The defendant admitted that he was at fault for the accident but argued that the accident was not the cause of the man’s knee injuries nor did it require him to undergo knee surgery. The defendant argued that the man had preexisting conditions that were the actual cause of his knee injuries.

The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $9,620 in past medical expenses for neck and back injuries. However, the plaintiff moved for a new trial because he argued that his knee injuries were also caused by the accident, and a reasonable jury could not have found otherwise based on the evidence presented. The judge granted the plaintiff his request for a new trial, but that state’s supreme court reversed the decision. It held that the jury’s verdict was supported by evidence that his knee injuries were preexisting and that the court should not have granted a new trial. Accordingly, the jury’s verdict was reinstated.

Jury Trials in Illinois

The right to a trial by jury is a constitutional right, guaranteed by both the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution. Normally, at the end of a jury trial, the judge will give the jury instructions, and the jury will return a verdict. However, there are ways a party can challenge the jury’s decision.

Challenging a Jury Verdict in Illinois

In Illinois, a circuit judge can decide that the evidence presented at trial demonstrates that there are no longer any genuine issues of material fact, and thus a reasonable jury could only come to one verdict. Thus, a judge, either before or after jury deliberations, can decide the result. In the alternative, the judge can order a new trial due to the erroneous verdict. The choices available to a judge are to grant a directed verdict, to issue a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or to order a new trial.

The judge’s decision normally results from a motion after the trial is over, as in the case above. However, if a party neglects to file a motion after trial, generally this will be deemed a waiver of this remedy. Normally, a motion to invalidate a civil jury verdict in Illinois has to be filed within 30 days of the decision. A motion filed within this time will “stay” the judgment, or it will delay the enforcement of the judgment.

Even if a party does not want to contest the jury’s decision, he can still challenge the damages award. If a plaintiff believes that the jury award was too low, he can seek “additur” to have the award increased, or seek a new trial. Similarly, if a defendant believes the jury award was too high, he can seek “remittitur” to have the award decreased, or seek a new trial.

Do You Need Legal Advice?

If you have been injured and need a Chicago car accident attorney on your side, it is essential that you get advice from a competent attorney. No matter where you are in your case—before filing your claim, after filing your claim, or even after a jury decision—you need a skilled attorney in your corner. The injury attorneys at Moll Law Group have guided people in Illinois through medical malpractice, product liability, motor vehicle collision, and other accident claims. Our attorneys represent victims throughout the Chicago area and the surrounding counties. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us through our online form to set up a free consultation.

See More Posts:

Boy Killed in Skateboarding Accident Barred from Compensation Because He Assumed the Risks of the Activity, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, July 1, 2016.

Court Finds Nursing Home Waived Its Right to Arbitration Despite Signed Arbitration Clause, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2016.

Court Dismisses Case After Failure to Pay Filing Fee Within Statute of Limitations, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, June 25, 2016.