Many thousands of personal injury lawsuits are filed each year in the United States, but only a small percentage ever make it to trial as the vast number of cases come to a settlement without requiring a jury or bench trial. The Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that the number of civil lawsuits that result in a trial, including tort personal injury cases, has declined by 50 percent since the 1990s. Further, fewer than 4 percent of personal injury cases result in a trial. That means that when a case does reach that stage, it is imperative for the plaintiff and her legal team to offer the most comprehensive set of facts and witnesses possible, to convince the judge or jury that the defendant is found liable and pays appropriate remuneration.
In a recent Missouri case personal injury, plaintiff Julia Kerr and her named defendant, CrossFit, Inc. reached the trial stage and ended in a judgment for the defendant. Here are the top reasons Julia Kerr and her legal team did not prevail in a Missouri Circuit Court.
Julia Kerr was a member of the No Shelter CrossFit club in St. Louis, Missouri. Kerr partnered with a trainer while at this club and worked with them on specific types of exercise and lifting. One of those exercises, a deadlift, resulted in the plaintiff suffering a herniated disc in her back. Kerr alleged that this injury occurred because she was not adequately instructed by her trainer to perform the deadlift. At trial, the plaintiff was not able to support that claim adequately to find that the trainer and CrossFit were actually negligent.
After Kerr was allegedly injured during her deadlift workout at No Shelter CrossFit, she failed to seek timely treatment for her herniated discs. In fact, documents presented to the court show that Kerr waited more than a month – 5 weeks in total – before seeking any type of medical treatment. With that long length of time between the apparent injury and resulting treatment, it is nearly impossible to prove that some other activity contributed or caused that injury.
The legal team for Julia Kerr sought a total of $3 million in compensation from CrossFit, Inc. and No Shelter CrossFit. The Matthew Sharp Law Firm explains “Personal injury victims are entitled to recover money damages for all losses and costs they incur as a result of the accident or harm that caused by the defendant’s negligent or reckless conduct.” During trial, Kerr’s attorneys were not able to correlate the amount of money sought specifically to medical bills, lost wages, ongoing medical needs or pain and suffering.
In contrast, another case against CrossFit in the state of Missouri, which also included a plaintiff with a spinal injury, the injured party was awarded a total of $200,000 from CrossFit, Inc. and the local Sky’s Limit Location. In that case, better evidence of costs and causality resulted in the plaintiff’s verdict. Further, that plaintiff sought medical treatment right away, resulting in emergency surgery.
Tort law is a careful balance of making plaintiffs whole after an injury and holding the appropriate defendant liable for their negligence. In the end, Kerr’s team simply didn’t offer a strong enough body of evidence to reach a decision in her favor.