Articles Posted in Personal Injury Awards

Another interesting graph from Metro Verdicts Monthly, this time on the median verdicts in leg amputation cases for Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The District of Columbia and Maryland have comparable verdicts, $2.1 million and $1.97 million, respectively. Virginia? $500,000. I expect some verdicts in Virginia to be lower because the rural areas of Virginia have conservative juries. But one-fourth of the amount?

leg amputation verdicts

Obviously, this data is not to be taken too seriously by accident lawyers in Maryland or in Virginia, as I discussed earlier this month. But in that post, I noted that Virginia’s verdicts in femur fracture cases are twice the Maryland average. So I cannot figure out the rhyme or reason to these comparative numbers.

I think it is fair to say that with respect to pain and suffering,  you have to value a leg amputation case in Maryland on (1) the statutory cap on damages plus, (2) Plaintiff’s economic expenses. In terms of making the noneconomic damages case, it is important to consider the future costs of a prosthetic leg. Last time we tried a leg amputation accident case, we brought in a prosthetic’s expert from the client’s prosthetic manufacturer from Hanger Orthopedic in Minnesota who I thought was a very effective witness at trial.

Metro Verdicts Monthly reports on a jury verdict in a five car rear end chain reaction car crash in Cecil County, Maryland. The case was not exactly an accident lawyer’s delight. Cecil County is a tough jurisdiction for personal injury cases because, historically, jury verdicts have been relatively low. Adding to the concern, there was a soft tissue/exacerbation of a previous injury which means there is no real objective evidence that the Plaintiff was injured in the car accident.

The jury awarded $103,130 which is a pretty good verdict for a soft tissue/exacerbation of a prior disc injury case. It probably did not hurt that the Defendant driver was driving a commercial vehicle, which allowed the Plaintiff’s lawyer to point to a concrete company instead of just the driver. Moreover, the Defendant driver was also driving a Ford F-350, which helps further the argument that Plaintiff suffered injuries in the accident. (I wish MVM would include how much property damage was in the accident.)

Is this a good verdict? I think so. We don’t have all the facts. We do know that the verdict actually came back closer to the way the defendants’ accident attorney viewed the case. The offer was $40,000; the demand was $300,000.

“Jury awards $89 million against drunk driver for fatal crash,” was the headline of a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. What do 99% of the people exposed to this article now believe? Someone just got a huge verdict. But his was a one day trial and the likelihood of the Plaintiffs collecting a penny approaches zero. The article does not say the case was even defended by a lawyer.

I think it is great that the victim’s family gets some measure of pleasure from the verdict. The man killed in the accident was returning from a shopping mall where they had registered for gifts for their upcoming wedding. His fiancee was pregnant. The defendant was drunk out of his mind. Awful facts.

Selfishly and for my clients, I think there is a benefit when future jurors here big numbers. It makes the numbers our lawyers usually ask juries for to be far more reasonable. Still, I worry about the impact on jurors who see an article like this and assume that jackpot justice is what we have in personal injury cases. Because far more people are getting big verdicts like this than are collecting big verdicts like this very large verdict in Missouri.

The magazine Money last month reported that $1.2 million is the average verdict in personal injury suits.

I think the average personal injury verdict is less than $1 million. Even so, this is an incredibly misleading number because this includes very large verdicts, many of which are not collectible because of financial limitation of the defendant or because of caps on damages.

Still, the advice offered in the article is good advice:

According to a Jury Verdict Research study released this month, the average jury award for finger and hand injuries is $629,382. This data for fractures, crush injuries, and nerve damage to fingers and hands is based on a review of jury verdicts in the United States over the last 10 years.

This average finger and hand injury verdict is a bit misleading because the data included a $20,000,000 verdict and other verdicts which completely distort the average verdict.

What does give more context?  Median verdict data.  The median verdict for hand and finger lawsuit verdicts, which, by definition, eliminates both high verdicts and the low verdicts, was $73,250. About a third of these injuries occurred in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents.

There is an interesting case report in Metro Verdicts Monthly this week from a car accident lawsuit in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland.

Plaintiff was a dog groomer on her way to work when the Defendant took a left turn in front of her. Plaintiff contended that she suffered a torn rotator cuff, among other injuries to her neck, back, and shoulder. Defendant’s accident lawyers (USAA and State Farm) claimed Plaintiff was contributorily negligent because she was speeding. The insurance company lawyers also brought an orthopedic doctor to testify that the Plaintiff’s rotator cuff injury was more consistent with her work as a dog groomer than from the car accident.

The last demand from the Plaintiff’s accident lawyer was $65,000 and the last offer from USAA and State Farm was $55,000. You would think at this point, they would find some number in between and settle. But they didn’t. The Queen Anne’s County jury, however, did it for them, awarding a verdict of $57,912.

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What is the value of my ear injury lawsuit? That is a tough question to answer in the abstract because there are so many types of injuries. One common ear injury in auto accidents is a burst eardrum caused by a car accident or a slip and fall that causes a direct blow to the side of the head that can burst the eardrum. But the ear is a pretty complicated little tool and a lot of things can go wrong, particularly with the flying debris you get in a serious car accident and the damage that can be done just because of the pressure of the airbag explosion. In medical malpractice cases, there are scores of error that can occur during care and treatment of the ear. Taking all of this together, Jury Verdict Research has concluded that the median jury verdict for ear injuries is $50,000. JVR reported the same exact number in 2003. But in that study, 5% of ear injury cases resulted in verdicts over $5 million. The message: it is impossible to lump together all ear injuries to guess at verdict ranges. The question of value of the ear injury case depends on the scope and extent of the ear injury.

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Ear Injury Verdicts and Settlements

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I don’t know. I really don’t know. That answer is followed by a laundry list of lawyerly explanations: no two cases are the same, each are judged on their merits, blah blah blah. This incredibly trite response is also true. Any accident lawyer who thinks they can accurately evaluate your case without reviewing all of your medical records and bills and understanding the severity of the accident and the injuries is completely kidding themselves—or you.

That said, there are a few things you can look at to better understand the value of your Maryland accident claim. First, there is an understanding of how insurance companies value cases. Second, there is data available on how juries decide similar cases.

Again, going back to the cliché, each case is absolutely different. But if you don’t know whether your case is worth $5,000,000 or $5,000 there are two resources for you. The first is our article on How Insurance Companies Value Personal Injury Cases, which includes a list of injuries and verdict amounts for those types of injuries. The second is on the Maryland Auto Accident Lawyer website which breaks down the nuance of how Maryland auto accident cases are valued. In other words, it discusses how much money you might get for your accident claim.

Note: This post was updated in 2020 to provide more information on CPRS/RSD claims in Maryland.

The Maryland Daily Record reports that a federal court awarded less than $10,000 to a Montgomery County woman claiming permanent injuries to her arm as the result of negligence at a Gaithersburg Sam’s Club.