When nursing home negligence cases enter litigation, opting for a jury trial will likely increase the elderly plaintiff’s odds of receiving a higher amount of damages, said a panel of lawyers at the Personal Injury and Elder Law program at the Ontario Bar Association’s Institute on Feb. 6.
Judges historically have preconceived notions that nursing home cases are worth extremely small amounts of damages and lawyers arguing for the plaintiff will face an uphill battle in shifting the judge’s already-formed view that these cases attract little in damages, without a jury, said panelist Amani Oakley, a senior partner at Oakley & Oakley PC, during the session in Toronto.
“Juries have grown up on a steady diet of American television and they see these giant numbers. [The defendant’s legal representation has] got to talk them down from that,” said Oakley. “When [clients] call you and say, ‘Mom passed away in a nursing home,’ they think they’re getting millions, so understand that juries have that in their head.”