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Wrongful Death Verdicts for Minor Children: A Large Sex Based Difference in Verdicts

In wrongful death cases, the size of jury verdicts has always tilted in favor of men, which is why many have argued that caps on non economic damages are sexually discriminatory.

In a new study, Jury Verdict Research offers a very different conclusion when comparing compensation in wrongful death claims between minor females and minor males. The median wrongful death of minor females is $1,912,349 but the median award for the wrongful death of minor males is $1,500,000. This gap increases when looking at average wrongful death verdicts. Minor females average $8,648,036 in wrongful death cases compared to an average of $3,173,360 for males.

I can’t explain this data or begin to offer a reason for it.

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  • http://www.pointoflaw.com Walter Olson

    Not clear whether first data point means anything given oft-discussed shortcomings of JVR as a data source, use of medians as opposed to averages, etc.

    On the second point, isn’t the obvious hypothesis comparative negligence: the young males are more likely to have been driving or otherwise acting recklessly, and get their awards clipped in consequence, while the young females are more likely to have been hurt as passengers or in the other vehicle?

  • Ron Miller

    Great point. Because 95 percent of my practice is in Maryland, I tend to pain a contributory negligence brush. But your theory makes perfect sense.

    Actually, I think median is more meaningful because it takes out a lot of verdicts that are subject to the cap. Using those numbers generally inflates values by pretending that these awards are actually recoverable. We had a $8 million verdict last year. But our client recovered a small fraction of that. Is it meaningful to count that verdict?

  • Franklin

    Yes, I will agree with your conversation about sex based difference in verdicts. Every one will make it as a big issue if a minor girl dies when compared to a minor boy.

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