Verdict - Spring 2018 - 21

> FEATURE

Voir Dire In Low
Speed, Soft Tissue
Injury Cases
BY MATTHEW E. COOK AND KATE S. COOK

e recently tried a low-speed, one-level cervical fusion case in Cobb County and received a verdict of $2.7 million. This
case presents issues that frequently arise in jury selection, including preconceptions about low-speed "whiplash"
crashes, conservative venues, racial bias, pre-existing conditions, and resistance to significant pain and suffering
awards. This article will focus on voir dire in such cases.

FACTS OF THE CASE

VOIR DIRE
Voir dire is critically important in any case.

with jurors, but be careful of appearing

end collision producing very little visible dam-

It is the jury's first introduction to the facts,

as if you are trying to manipulate them.

age to our client's car and no damage to the

counsel and, oftentimes, the overall litigation

Do not talk to the panel like they are

striking vehicle. Plaintiff declined medical

process. Great care should be taken in prepar-

children or show over-familiarity. Jurors

treatment at the scene but visited an emer-

ing your examination because the outcome of

know you are there to persuade them - do

gency room later that same day. After several

most cases is greatly influenced by voir dire.

so with the evidence and logic, not with

months of physical therapy, an MRI revealed
two cervical herniations. A one-level cervi-

supplication.
THE BASICS

If you encounter a hostile juror, don't

cal fusion was performed approximately nine

First, determine how the process will

argue with them, but do not wilt, either.

months after the wreck. Despite surgery, our

unfold. Will the court allow immediate indi-

If they express unnecessarily aggressive

client continued to require ongoing pain man-

vidual follow up questions after general ques-

opinions, you should directly and immedi-

agement. As of trial, our client's treating sur-

tions or will it only allow individual questions

ately address them. For example, if a juror

geon had recommended additional surgery.

later? Most judges prefer the former approach

makes comments like "all lawsuits are

to expedite the process.

frivolous," or "plaintiffs are just money

Our client, an African-American truck

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Third, be respectful in your interactions

This case involved a 4.2 mph Delta V rear-

driver who was 31 years old at the time of

Second, structure your examination around

hungry," you can respond with follow up

the wreck, had suffered two previous minor

the issues that you will encounter in the case,

questions like, "Is it your position that

neck injuries approximately 9 and 14 years

namely the expected proof and defenses. In

people have no responsibility to anyone

prior, both of which were asymptomatic at

formulating your questions, we typically

even if they cause injury to another?" or,

the time of the subject wreck. At trial, Plaintiff

divide our examination into "chapters" on

"Do you think sometimes people refuse

had $127,000 in past medical bills; $20,000 in

each essential issue. This helps to organize

to do the right thing just to save money?"

past lost wages; a future medical estimate

your questions on a given topic, which you

Proper questions or responses to such

of $201,000 and a future lost wage estimate

should begin to formulate and note as your

jurors will prevent other panelists' opin-

of $37,000.

case develops in discovery.

ions on the issue from being unduly
Spring 2018 21


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2018

President’s Message
How I Obtained Justice: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Thank You to Outgoing Verdict Chairman, Madeleine Simmons
Look Before You Leap: Conducting Jury Focus Groups Before Trial
Voir Dire In Low Speed, Soft Tissue Injury Cases
Defeating Reptile Theory Motions in Limine
Leading the Jury Down the Right Path: Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
Hernandez v. State: Empowering Jurors to Seek the Truth
Exploding Takata Airbags From Cover-Up To Accountability
Using Simple Technology to Pick a Better Jury
Case Updates: Who Really Loses When Medical Funding Becomes an Issue at Trial?
Professional Practice Pointers: Voir Dire, An interview with Cobb County State Court Judge Allison Barnes Salter
Dig In To Do Good: Making the World a Better Place
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Champion Members
Meet The Experts
Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Intro
Verdict - Spring 2018 - bellyband1
Verdict - Spring 2018 - bellyband2
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover1
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover2
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 3
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 4
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 5
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 6
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 7
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 8
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 9
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 10
Verdict - Spring 2018 - President’s Message
Verdict - Spring 2018 - How I Obtained Justice: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 13
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 14
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Thank You to Outgoing Verdict Chairman, Madeleine Simmons
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Look Before You Leap: Conducting Jury Focus Groups Before Trial
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 17
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 18
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 19
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 20
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Voir Dire In Low Speed, Soft Tissue Injury Cases
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 22
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 23
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 24
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 25
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Defeating Reptile Theory Motions in Limine
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 27
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 28
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Leading the Jury Down the Right Path: Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 30
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Hernandez v. State: Empowering Jurors to Seek the Truth
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 32
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 33
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Exploding Takata Airbags From Cover-Up To Accountability
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 35
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 36
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Using Simple Technology to Pick a Better Jury
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Case Updates: Who Really Loses When Medical Funding Becomes an Issue at Trial?
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 39
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Professional Practice Pointers: Voir Dire, An interview with Cobb County State Court Judge Allison Barnes Salter
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Dig In To Do Good: Making the World a Better Place
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 42
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Champion Members
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 44
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Meet The Experts
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover3
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover4
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