Ron Miller is a Maryland personal injury lawyer who focuses on serious injury and wrongful death cases involving motor vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, and products and premises liability. This site is designed to provide practical information to both injury victims and plaintiffs' attorneys in the Baltimore-Washington area who want to achieve a fair settlement or verdict. If you are looking for counsel for your case, call him at 410-779-4600

Calls to our law firm by bed sore victims and their families have increased substantially in recent months.  We have a few more law firms sending all of their nursing home cases to us and our Internet presence has increased the number of calls we get directly from victims.

bed sore victimIt is clear that there are a lot of questions about how bed sore cases and the types of cases that get compensation, the type of cases our firm will take, and what really is the deal with bed sore cases. I try to address some of the more common questions below.

What exactly is a bed sore?

I stumbled across a just brutal 9th Circuit opinion in S.H. v. United States earlier this year. This case reversed a $10 million verdict in a birth injury case, finding that the foreign country exception bars plaintiffs’ Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) malpractice claims against the military doctors who treated the mother and child.

law-and-justice-300x200Facts of S.H. v. United States

A U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant is transferred to Spain.  I don’t know if he wanted to go to Spain but it does not really matter, right?  He was ordered to go to Spain.  Before leaving for Spain, they go to Andrews Air Force Base so the military can verify that the family is medically suitable to travel overseas.  At Andrews, he and his wife learn they are pregnant with their third child.  She had experienced two prior preterm deliveries and a miscarriage in the past.

Maryland settlement value

How much is an injury case worth in Maryland?

Jury Verdict Research published a new Maryland specific study on the median compensation awards for car, truck and motorcycle accidents.

In cases that go to trial, the median recovery was $11,328. Only in 1% of the cases did the jury award more than $500,000. Plaintiffs prevailed and received a recovery in 74% of the motor vehicle accident cases that went to trial in Maryland. I suspect a lot of those 26% were just awful cases that never should have been filed.

The median recovery was $11,277, $51 dollars less than the latest study. (As of 2017, the amount of verdicts has been relatively unchanged although I suspect they have trended a bit higher as the cost of health care has increased)

I’m excited to see a new study on Maryland auto accident verdicts because I love looking at statistics on jury verdicts. But I think the data is fairly useless. As I have written before, Maryland’s jury verdicts are distorted by the defense lawyers who routinely “bump up” what should be “small” tort claims to Circuit Court. In other words, if an auto collision lawyer in Maryland files a small claim for more than $15,000 but less than $30,000 (which is the new District Court maximum as of today), the insurance company’s lawyers may remove the case to Circuit Court, which generally requires a jury trial and almost invariably leads to greater expenses for both parties.

This practice distorts the jury awards in a downward direction.  I read Metro Jury Verdicts every month and half of the reported personal injury cases in Baltimore are nickel and dime cases that never should go in front of a jury.  So I think this data is interesting and useless all at the same time.

2017 Update

Our law firm has successfully handled hundreds of serious injury accident cases, earning tens of millions of dollars for our clients. We handle only serious injury claims. If you want someone to fight tooth and nail for you, call 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation.

This post was originally written ten years ago.  It is 2017 now. (I’m passing this off as fresh content as opposed to writing a post this week.)   But I can tell you that the data has likely remained relatively unchanged. Things are no better or worse than they used to be back in those days.

I have just gone back and put all of our settlements over the last two years into a spreadsheet. I’m going to work on computing our average verdict. Our law firm’s average personal injury settlements range from $2.1 million to $300 (the child of a client who was not hurt in the accident).  Miller & Zois average settlement is clearly over $50,000. The study I just cited said that only 1% of Maryland verdicts are over $500,000. We have had at least 26 settlements and verdict over $500,000 in the last two years. I will calculate our average verdict when we get all of our lawyers in the office at the same time, but it is certainly a number that exceeds $500,000. (Take a look at some of our better verdicts in recent years.)

Does this tell you much about the value of your case? It does not. Every case is different and our results do not predict yours. So why am I telling you this? I think many people who are badly injured read the statistics in this study and become despondent thinking they are doomed to a recovery somewhere near the Maryland average set out in the above statistics. Don’t be, because you are not.

Our law firm has successfully handled scores of foot and ankle serious injury accident cases. If you want someone to fight for you, lawyers that knows these cases, call 800-553-8082 or get a free Internet consultation.

I think I have a pretty good handle on the settlement value of ankle fracture cases.  We have handled a lot of foot and ankle injury cases over the years.  My first foot and ankle case was 17 years ago when  I sued the New England Patriots and their team doctors that ultimately settled. Over the course of that lawsuit, I probably met with a half dozen of the best foot and ankle surgeons in the country.

Since then, Miller & Zois has handled scores of foot and ankle injury case and procured millions of dollars for our clients in these cases.  My last ankle injury verdict was in Prince George’s County was the 6th biggest verdict that year, according to Washingtonian Magazine.  We know the science of these cases and how to maximize the settlement and trial value of these claims.

Ankle Settlement Value Statistics

What kind of success are other lawyers having in fracture ankle cases?   Apparently, they are having very little success. The median settlement values for ankle fracture injuries are:

District of Columbia $66,000
Virginia $21,700
Maryland $88,000

It is amazing how low these are.  Sure, some ankle fractures can be treated with conservative care if the fracture displacement is two millimeters or less or if there is no talar shift.  But it is difficult to imagine getting less than six figures in the vast majority of these cases.  I don’t know how much insurance policy limits came into play in these cases.  But, either way, these numbers are just way too low.

One of the problems, I think, is not distinguishing between a good result and a good outcome for the patient.  A good result for an orthopedic surgeon is a good looking x-ray.  The fracture is healed, mobility is good and the ankle joint is where it’s supposed to be. But you can have a good x-ray and still have a permanent injury, particularly when there is hardware is keeping the ankle together.

Two more points of interest in this data. First, don’t get an ankle fracture in Virginia. It is amazing to me how low these Virginia verdicts are. I have to think this data is screwed up in some way. Second, it is interesting that Maryland ankle fracture verdicts are 33% higher than Washington, D.C. verdicts, given that the Maryland median was much less than Washington, D.C. for both fractured shoulder and rotator cuff verdicts.

https://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSXFHSoBC-IKXHH1YlS-S_ZN7nNmrR28zjLMhabnYcuBCOwRWWKThe Federal Tort Claims Act News (who knew there was such a publication?) wrote an article about how Jury Verdict Research Case Evaluation Software was predicting the values of verdicts in a particular slip and fall case with an ankle fracture. In this case, the jury predicted a probable verdict of $117,600 with only a 33% chance of success on liability (maybe a tough slip and fall case on liability).  I just struggle to see how a case with a good fracture could be valued so low.

As a point of comparison, it provided the following JVR nationwide analysis of ankle injuries:

Award Median $91,925
Probability Range $40,000 – $248,223
Award Range $1 – $5,250,804

 

One more point: median settlement values is the midpoint of the data, not the average. So included in the math are a lot of awful cases that probably never should have been filed in the first place. So why not just quote the average? Well, the high range of these ankle verdicts is $5,250,804. That also distorts the statistics. The take home message: settlement and verdict statistics are invariably misleading.

Factors That Impact Settlement Amounts in Ankle Fracture Cases

These are 15 factors that drive the trial and settlement value of your ankle fracture case.

  1. Surgery
  2. Surgery with hardware
  3. Complex fracture
  4. Displace bone
  5. Continued ankle swelling (synovitis)
  6. Synovitis with chondral changes
  7. Signs of arthritic changes
  8. Arthrofibrosis
  9. Chondral injuries
  10. Loose bodies
  11. Nerve Damage
  12. An ankle replacement
  13. Walking with a limp
  14. Non-weight bearing ankle
  15. Amputation

All of these factors lead to the question of how is the ankle injury permanent and, if so, how severe is the permanency.

Sample Verdicts and Settlements in Ankle Cases

This will give you another way to look at value: sample verdicts and settlements.  But please remember that no two cases are alike and you cannot figure out the value of your case just by comparing your case with a similar case.  No two cases are the same and someone’s verdict is just a poor predictor of what the outcome in your case will be.  Certainly, along with other tools, it can shed light on value.  No question.  But you just cannot put too much into it.

  • 2014, Maryland: $96,789 Verdict – The plaintiff was driving on a two lane road when another car hit him head on. He suffered a comminuted ankle fracture as a result of the crash. The plaintiff had to have two screws permanently implanted in his leg, and developed a permanent limp as a result of his injuries. The jury awarded him $96,789.  This is one of those cases I’m taling about, right?  A permanent limp is only worth $96,000?
  • 2013, Maryland: $260,506 Verdict – When the plaintiff was inside of a Taco Bell restaurant, a fight ensued, and the plaintiff was struck in the face by an employee. He fell backward as a result of the fight which caused his ankle to become fractured. He had to receive two surgeries to fix his ankle and developed an infection. Additionally, he claimed that he had limited mobility in his ankle. The defendants contended that he provoked the fight. The jury awarded him $260,506.
  • 2014, Pennsylvania: $847,362 Verdict – As the plaintiff was exiting her apartment when she slipped and fell on icy steps. She sued the property owner, claiming that they negligently maintained the steps by failing to remove snow and freezing rain. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to inspect the property over the previous night, which led to the hazardous condition. She suffered an ankle fracture, which required implementation of screws in her ankle, leading to arthritis. She also alleged that her ability to stand was compromised.
  • 2014, Pennsylvania: $225,000 Settlement – The plaintiff was crossing a street when she stepped in an uneven asphalt patch. This caused her ankle to roll, leading to a fracture. She sued the city, alleging that they failed to maintain a dangerous condition. She had to receive surgery, where two screws were implanted in her ankle. The plaintiff had to undergo physical therapy and claimed that she suffers pain and swelling during prolonged periods of standing. The defense claimed that the alleged injuries were fully healed. Still, the parties reached a pretrial settlement.
  • 2014, Virginia: $2,000,000 Verdict – The plaintiff was a 59-year-old shipyard worker who slipped and fell on a patch of black ice while taking his car in for service. He sued the dealership, alleging that they failed to maintain a lesser-used sidewalk and that they knew that it commonly ices over. He suffered an ankle fracture and claimed that the injury aggravated a pre-existing back injury. He had to receive surgery to repair his ankle and additional surgery to alleviate back pain. The defendants claimed that he had previously inquired about the back surgery prior to the fall. The jury awarded him $2,000,000.
  • 2010, North Carolina:  $10,397,291 Verdict – The plaintiff was interested in purchasing a new boat. While on a demonstration with a boat salesman, the boat hit choppy waters causing the plaintiff to be thrown up and down in the boat. He fractured both ankles, one of which required surgery. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was operating the boat at unsafe speeds given the choppiness of the water. He sued the boat operator and the marina, and received a $10,397,291 judgment. This case underscores impact on the amount of the verdict a good lost wage claim can make.  This man was a urologist and most of the damage award accounted for his past and future earnings.
  • 2010, North Carolina: $80,000 Settlement – The plaintiff was operating her vehicle when she was struck by another motorist trying to enter the street from a cross street. She suffered an ankle fracture as a result of the accident. The parties eventually settled for $80,000.  We have no more information on the severity of the claim.

Getting a Lawyer to Fight for You

If you have an ankle fracture case in Maryland or Washington, D.C., call me at 800-553-8082 or fill out this claim form online. We can help you.  If you are outside of the Baltimore-D.C. area and you have a serious ankle fracture, call me or find my bio and email me.  I can (probably) help you find the right lawyer to maximize the value of your ankle fracture claim.

complaintThere are a variety of motivations that impact the victim’s decision to settle or go to trial. It is worth underscoring: it is the victim’s decision. It is not a choice for the attorneys or the family. The victim has to choose the path that is best for them.  There are certainly some Maryland injury attorneys who do not see it that way.  It really is tempting — I’ve felt it — to think you know what is best for your client.  I’ve settled cases where I was convinced the offer would double in a matter of weeks.  But as a lawyer, your job really is to give your client the information to make an informed choice.

Here are the three key factors victims need to consider: risk, time, and emotional strain.

Continue reading

Sprained Wrist

What Are Wrist Injuries Worth?

Metro Verdicts Monthly provides the median verdict and settlement value of wrist fracture cases over the last 22 years. The average settlement/verdict in Washington D.C. is $105,000. Maryland is less than half that: $50,000. The average settlement/verdict in a wrist fracture case in Virginia is $52,583.

Maryland jury verdicts in series personal injury cases are generally higher in the District of Columbia. Again, I don’t know the methodology of how MVM gets its numbers. If they rely on personal injury lawyers reporting that data – which I do not think they do – then that could possibly skew the data as could a lot of other things that only a statistician could find. Particularly since Metro Verdicts includes settlements in their statistics, it is hard not to suspect that data could be skewed. The only way auto accident settlements (as opposed to malpractice settlements that have to be reported) get on the radar screen is if you call Metro Verdicts and tell them you settled a case. But there are few sources of verdict and settlement statistics in personal injury cases so it is hard not to find data like this interesting. I would love to see a jurisdiction comparison of Baltimore City and all of the counties in Maryland.

Jury Verdict Research found that the median jury verdict in arm nerve damage cases over the last 10 years was $81,095.

Arm nerve damage is defined by the study as injuries to the median nerve, radial nerve, ulnar nerve, musculocutaneous nerve, and axillary nerve which are all branches of the brachial plexus. Carpal tunnel injuries were, however, specifically excluded from this study.  Why?  The vast majority of carpal tunnel injury cases are not the result of medical malpractice or a motor vehicle accident.  Before you get outraged, it is absolutely true that people get CPS all of the time from tensing up and gripping the steering wheel before a crash. It is just that most of these injuries are not caused by car accidents.

armnerve
JVR provides more median verdicts for arm injuries:

doctor-300x203More often than not, a jury trial in a wrongful death or severe injury case is about assigning blame.  Jurors want someone to blame for the harm that was caused.  Usually, this is either the plaintiff or the defendant.  In medical malpractice cases, jurors may also point to bad luck as the cause.

For defense lawyers, one of the best targets for responsibility is an empty chair, either a dismissed or unnamed defendant.  This is a more substantive target than mere bad luck and it allows the jury to meet its perceived obligation of assigning clear responsibility.  In Copsey v. Park, the Maryland high court addressed the question of whether the defendant could point to the empty chair of doctors who had already settled before trial.

Facts of Copsey

Eye

Value of Vision Loss Cases

Metro Verdicts Monthly has a graph that reflects the median verdicts and settlements when the injury victim loses vision in one eye in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The median for the loss of vision in one eye in Maryland is $231,000. You could drive a truck through the gap between Washington, D.C. and Virginia’s median settlements in verdicts with loss of vision in one eye cases: Washington, D.C.’s median is $162,500; Virginia’s is $320,000. If you read graphs regularly, you would expect Washington, D.C. and Virginia to be reversed because Virginia as a whole typically has more conservative verdicts.

These numbers are a bit misleading.   I think because most loss of vision cases are products liability cases. Many products liability cases have questionable liability which decreases the average and median recoveries. If liability is not an issue, the values of these cases are much higher.

If you are considering bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, one question may have is what is the most you can sue for in a wrongful death case?

The better question is how much money can a jury award you.  Because in a wrongful death case in Maryland, you no longer ask for a specific amount of money in the Complaint.  Assuming the plaintiff’s lawyer understands Maryland law, the days of the Baltimore Sun publishing a story about a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit are over.  Today, we do not sue for a specific amount, but we ask for what a judge or jury deems just.

A wrongful death claim is a statutory cause of action governed by the specific rules of Maryland law.   It bears repeating that actions for wrongful death in Maryland must be commenced within three years of the death of the injured person. To date, the Maryland General Assembly has only enacted exceptions for deaths caused by occupational disease and criminal homicide.

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