Dateline: November, 2006, Issue 2

Do instructions about loss of enjoyment of life increase damage awards?

In a recent study by Poser et al. (2003), 197 mock jurors awarded damages after they received instructions on noneconomic damages. One third of the mock jurors received instructions in which loss of enjoyment of life was not identified as a distinct element of noneconomic damages. Another third received instructions in which loss of enjoyment of life was defined as an element of damages distinct from pain and suffering, but jurors awarded a single amount for all noneconomic damages. The final third received instructions in which loss of enjoyment of life was defined as a distinct element of noneconomic damages, and were told to award separate amounts for loss of enjoyment of life and for pain and suffering.

Instructions about loss of enjoyment of life resulted in larger awards, but only when mock jurors also made a separate award for that element of damages.

Source Poser, S., Bornstein, B. H. & McGorty, E. K. (2003). Measuring damages for lost enjoyment of life: The view from the bench and the jury box. Law and Human Behavior, 27, pp. 53-68.