Decisionmaking About General Damages: A Comparison of Jurors, Judges, and Lawyers

Michigan Law Review, Vol. 98, p. 751, 1999

76 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2010

See all articles by Roselle Wissler

Roselle Wissler

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Michael J. Saks

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Allen J. Hart

Amherst College

Date Written: 1999

Abstract

The research reported in this Article investigates jurors’ perceptions of injury seriousness and awards of general damages, and compares them to judges’ and lawyers’ responses to the same injuries. We developed regression models for each group of decision makers to determine which attributes of the injuries had what degree of impact on injury severity judgments and on awards. The models also examined how differences in geography, demography, and experiences affected decisions. The models showed a remarkable degree of similarity among the decision-making groups when evaluating the severity of injuries. That is, jurors, judges, and lawyers largely relied on the same injury attributes in similar ways and gave them similar relative weight. When it came to translating injury perceptions into monetary awards, however, more differences among the groups appeared, and the predictive power of the models declined. The findings suggest that the differences between jurors’ awards and those of the other groups do not reflect fundamental differences in decision making, but rather a loss of consistency in translating perceptions of injury severity into damages. That loss of consistency likely can be attributed to the fact that jurors lack the frame of reference created by other cases that is readily available to judges and lawyers. The article concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of the findings.

Keywords: juror decision making, damages, personal injury

Suggested Citation

Wissler, Roselle and Saks, Michael J. and Hart, Allen J., Decisionmaking About General Damages: A Comparison of Jurors, Judges, and Lawyers (1999). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 98, p. 751, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1723404

Roselle Wissler (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

Michael J. Saks

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

Allen J. Hart

Amherst College ( email )

Amherst, MA 01002
United States

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