Why Sympathy & Anger Do Not Inspire Jurors to Award Large Damages

by | Mar 6, 2014 | Personal Injury | 0 comments


Although anger is usually a very forceful inspiration for action, an experienced Michigan injury lawyer knows that merely provoking anger in jurors will not necessarily result in a large damages award.

It is not effective just to tell jurors that you are really angry about what happened to you and that they should be angry too. To truly inspire jurors to act, your Michigan personal injury lawyer must actually help the jurors experience the anger for themselves. When an attorney expresses anger without the jurors feeling it too, the jurors may either fail to respond at all or subconsciously feel that they are the target of the anger. While communal anger is potent, it is disturbing to be on the receiving end of the anger, even when a juror knows consciously that the anger is aimed at someone else.

Anger is a sensation, not an ethical principle. Sensations are transitory, but principles are more permanent. To inspire a juror to act, anger must be connected to an ethical principle, not just a temporary feeling. The ethical principle needs to be one that the jurors directly believe in and identify to be worth standing up for.

If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in an auto accident, and you would like to speak with an experienced Michigan injury lawyer about the potential value of your case, please contact us.


Similarly, sympathy is not a feeling that inspires most jurors to lean significantly in favor of an injured plaintiff. Despite what “tort reform” supporters will have you believe, juries are not always biased towards injury victims. In addition, most jury instructions (the formal instructions on the law that the judge reads to the jurors before they begin deliberations) clearly state that jurors are not to decide the case based on sympathy. This provides jurors leaning toward the defense with arguments to aggressively rebut any sympathy expressed in the jury room. In fact, if jurors believe that the plaintiff is trying to appeal to their sympathy, they may feel resentful and hostile towards the plaintiff.

If you would like to speak with an experienced Michigan injury lawyer about the principles in your case that will motivate jurors, please contact us.

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