Business Negligence Verdicts by Injury Type

Jury Verdict Research looked at plaintiffs’ jury awards to get an idea of the value of different types of business negligence injury.

The most frequently injury, not surprisingly, was disc injury claims which made up 12% of the total cases. Interestingly, emotional distress was the next most frequently reported injury at 10%. No, I don’t know exactly what this means, either, but let’s go with it. Back strains, I’m think mostly soft tissue injury, was 7 percent. Bad faith, death and spinal nerve cases each comprised 6 percent of the total plaintiff awards. Brain injury cases accounted for 5 percent, while head injuries, knee injuries, leg injuries, and shoulder injuries each accounted for 4 percent of the cases. All other injuries each made up 3 percent or less of the total number of plaintiff awards.

Injury Award Median Probability Range
Disc Damage $ 141,475 $ 45,000 – $ 502,161
Emotional Distress $ 100,000 $ 16,900 – $ 477,283
Back Strains $ 13,139 $ 5,591 – $ 34,661
Bad Faith $ 103,000 $ 42,361 – $ 537,511
Death $ 1,160,000 $ 383,278 – $ 3,500,000
Spinal Nerve Injuries $ 141,821 $ 40,179 – $ 750,646
Brain Damage $ 577,000 $ 123,237 – $ 3,108,000
Head Injuries $ 50,000 $ 19,000 – $ 163,562
Knee Injuries $ 140,000 $ 50,000 – $ 412,501
Leg Injuries $ 374,000 $ 120,000 – $ 1,452,635
Shoulder Injuries $ 117,000 $ 51,039 – $ 384,250
Overall Injuries $ 150,000 $ 37,500 – $ 736,875

(Again, probability range is the 25th to 75th percentile of verdicts.)

The average business liability claim is worth a lot more than the average personal injury claim. Why?

The first, and most obvious, businesses typically have deeper pockets because they have better insurance coverage and assets to stand behind verdicts than most car accident cases. We have handled a lot of car accident wrongful death cases where the recovery is $100,000 or less simply because there is no coverage. Serious injury and death business liability cases are also getting higher value because these injuries do not discriminate as much based on age. Many malpractice cases involve older patients – they are getting more treatment than younger people – so they tend to get less in terms of future economic damages and their life spans are just not as long.

The most stunning gap between the probability ranges is in brain injury cases.  According to this data, 25% of brain injury cases involve an award less than $123,000.  You have to ask yourself how they defined brain injury for the purposes of the study.   I can’t ever remember seeing a brain injury case some in for less than $123,000 but these statistics suggest that 1 in 4 cases comes in below that number.  I would assume they are using head and brain injury interchangeably but they are not:  head injury is a separate category in the data.

Maryland Verdicts Are Not This High

You should not expect to see verdicts this high in Maryland business negligence injury cases.  The reason is contributory negligence.   Theoretically, if you are looking at jury verdicts as opposed to settlements, it should make no difference.  If there is a verdict, ostensibly the jury found the defendant 100% responsible.  But it really does not quite work that way.   If a jury is making a tough call on liability, they will often compromise the damage verdict accordingly.   Some of this is subconscious and some of it is actually the result of a compromise in the jury room.   But average verdicts in Maryland are not quite what these verdicts would suggest.

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