April 17, 2015 • Legal Terminology
If the judge gives the wrong legal instructions to the jury at the end of your personal injury case, would it make a difference? The answer is yes, it would make a significant difference.
The Wrong Legal Instructions can Lead to the Wrong Conclusion of the Jury
Here is a typical scenario. You go to trial in either a medical malpractice, accident, or even a wrongful death case, and the trial is now over and the attorneys have made their closing remarks. Now the judge has to provide legal instructions to the jury on what the law is that they must apply to this case. What happens if the judge tells the jury instructions that are not accurate? Well, the jury will be relying on inaccurate information and they may come to the wrong conclusions.
Such a Verdict can be Appealed
When the judge gives wrong legal instructions to the jury, the defense or the plaintiff can appeal the decision given by the jury. In such instances, the case will be sent to a higher court for review.
The Possibility of a Harmless Error
Now, there is a possibility that if the judge gives the jury a wrong instruction, then this might be considered something known as a harmless error. In other words, if the higher court that reviews the verdict, determines that the judge gave them an instruction that really did not make a difference to the case, it is termed as harmless error and they will still allow the original verdict to stand.
The Higher Court has Several Avenues to Choose From
However, what if the judge gives wrong legal instructions to the jury that dramatically shifts the way the jury looks at the case? The jury’s resolve can be drastically and sharply altered, had they been given the correct instructions. In such instances, the higher court that reviews the verdict can do a number of things:
The review court therefore has many different options, when the judge has given the jury incorrect instructions and such instructions has made a significant difference in the outcome.
Hence, if you have filed a personal injury case, and at the end of the trial the judge gives wrong legal instructions to the jury, you or the defense will have the opportunity to appeal the verdict to a higher court. If the higher court determines it is not a harmless error, then they can then dismiss your case, send it for a retrial, or change the dollar amount that has been awarded to you.