Save money with early jury research
Everyone in the litigation management business is concerned about the rising costs of litigation. Just managing the litigation process is a seriously daunting process. In many cases, trying to keep the budget on track can become a major endeavor involving excess costs brought on by improper and imprudent planning with precious resources thrown at superfluous services.
Jury research saves money
Pre-trial jury research, especially when conducted early, is the best means to guide future discovery, to develop strategies for discovery, and, depending on the type of project executed, to determine which witnesses, experts, and evidence the jury should have before them at the actual trial of the case. Also, jury research accords you the ability to figure out which witnesses, experts, and evidence the jury doesn’t need to hear, thus reducing other costs.
Early on, the goal should not be to “figure out” the case in its entirety. The objective should be to find out the key issues that will be most compelling to the jury. Leverage focus group research to get to the core of your case and where it needs to go, with more valuable insight into juror perceptions so that your continuing case evaluation has validity and clarity.
Focus groups aren’t a full-blown mock trial but the information and knowledge gained from this kind of research immensely affects the efficiency of trial preparation by identifying which issues need the most scrutiny and where resources should be directed. An independent issue is the evaluation of the strength and value of the case. After the trial strategies are developed and the direction of discovery is learned, the focus for the risk manager becomes the decision whether to take the case to trial or to settle, and, if to settle, for how much.
A very cost-effective and organized approach to managing litigation is to conduct the research early and develop a team approach consisting of the risk manager/adjuster, the lawyer, and the jury consultant. The design of the most effective case presentation should be a team effort. The objective now becomes one of solidifying the case itself by sharpening the issues, completing discovery, developing the witnesses, experts, and evidence so that a strategy can crystallize for evaluation of liability and damages, whether the case ultimately goes to trial or settles.
What a jury consultant most often wants to know from the attorney and adjuster team members is: what are the four or five most important questions that they hope to have answered after the research is concluded. For example: What is the perception of the people that live in the venue about this kind of case? What is the dollar amount that they place on the damages? Will they be overly sympathetic to the plaintiff? Will they be able to allocate fault to both the plaintiff and the defendant/co-defendants? How much will sympathy and anger play into their decision-making? Are the jurors more or less agreeable about key issues like damages and fault, or are there subsets of jurors or certain types of jurors who value the case at a much higher or lower dollar amount? How can we identify this inconsistency in jurors during voir dire? What evidence, arguments, witnesses could better persuade the actual jurors? Are we using the best graphics and demonstratives to tell our story in a manner that jurors are going to understand? The answers to these questions are critical to making a liability and damages assessment, whether you ever go to trial or not.
Pre-trial jury research can get you well on your way to answering these, as well as other questions. It is a financially justifiable cost of managing litigation and can be framed in such a manner so as to actually reduce a company's overall costs of litigation. Identify through research early in the case which cases should be settled and which cases should go to trial; and then you out-prepare your opposition by learning all you can about how the jury will view and judge your case. Rather than focusing on keeping litigation costs at a minimum and hoping for a favorable verdict or settlement while guessing at most of the questions posed above, it makes more sense to commit to cost-effective litigation services, like focus groups, and thereby increasing your likelihood of favorable verdicts and correctly valued settlements.
Our goal, just like yours, is to minimize litigation costs and settlement amounts. Jury research enhances expected verdict and damage awards by simplifying the design of your voir dire strategy and jury selection. Keep your focus on the jury and develop a team approach to the claims management process and watch your litigation costs make a downward descent.