Courts typically decide awards based on the cause of an accident. As described by the South Carolina Bar, a jury in a civil trial reviews evidence and hears each party’s testimony. Jurors then determine fault and award damages based on the injuries incurred.

Under certain circumstances, a jury may find a motorist’s own mistake or carelessness contributed to the accident in which he or she incurred injuries. The severity of the injuries, however, may compel a compassionate jury to hold both parties accountable.

South Carolina jury returns a $35 million verdict

A truck operator rear-ended a vehicle driven by a father with his son riding as a passenger on Interstate 26. The impact left them with severe and permanent injuries.

Their hospitalization and medical expenses resulted in a legal action to recover. After a five-day trial, the jury found the commercial trucking company liable for 90% of the injuries. Together, the father and son received a jury award totaling $35 million, as reported by The Times and Democrat. The court, however, did not allow the father to keep his full award.

Jury awards may include actual and punitive damages

The jury awarded the 23-year-old son $4 million in actual damages for his medical expenses. He also received $16 million in punitive damages reflecting punishment for the truck driver’s “reckless, willful, wanton” conduct.

The court also found the father 10% responsible for causing the accident because he stopped on the highway to avoid a disabled vehicle. The truck following close behind then rear-ended him.

The jury awarded the father $4 million in actual damages to cover medical expenses and $10 million in punitive damages. The court, however, ordered him to pay 10% of his award to his son because the jury decided his carelessness in stopping on the highway contributed to the accident.