Jury Verdict Research looked at plaintiffs’ jury awards to get an idea of the value of different types of business negligence injury.
The most frequent injury claim involved disc injuries, 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 thinking 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 many car accident wrongful death cases where the recovery is $100,000 or less 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 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 of less than $123,000. Ask yourself how they defined brain injury for the study. I can’t ever remember seeing a brain injury case come 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 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.
Business Negligence Verdicts and Settlements
- 2020, California: $8,000,000 Verdict. A man suffered respiratory distress syndrome, permanent scarring of his mucous membranes, anosmia, and ageusia after he was exposed to pesticides. He was at his workplace when he saw what he thought was a cloud of smoke that was entering the bathroom. Instead of being a cloud of smoke, it was a cloud of pesticides that Terminex placed inside a common wall between the man’s workplace and a Starbucks. He alleged that Terminex negligently applied and sprayed toxic chemicals. The man claimed this created dangerous conditions in his workplace. He further claimed that Terminex failed to create safer conditions or warn individuals of a potential health hazard. Terminex denied negligence, claiming that the man was not exposed to their chemicals. They also disputed his injuries’ extent. The jury ruled in favor of the man, awarding him an $8,000,000 verdict.
- 2020, Florida: $266,100 Verdict. A woman suffered unspecified injuries after she slipped and fell at a local Walmart. She sued Walmart, alleging that they failed to maintain safe premises, failed to warn customers of unsafe conditions, and failed to properly inspect the premises. The jury found the woman 65 percent at fault and Walmart 35 percent at fault. They awarded $266,100 in damages.
- 2020, California: $893,096 Verdict. A woman suffered undisclosed injuries after slipping and falling on the wet floor of a Safeway grocery store. The woman claimed that a leak in the roof created these conditions. She alleged that the Safeway failed to properly maintain their property. The woman further alleged that the employees failed to put a cone or sign around the puddle to warn customers. The jury ruled in favor of the woman and awarded her an $893,096 verdict.
- 2020, New York: $725,000 Settlement. A 47-year-old woman suffered severe and permanent injuries after a retail employee twice punched her in the face following an altercation. She suffered a laceration to her mouth’s insides, which necessitated surgery. The woman also experienced the aggravation of a pre-existing lumbar injury, which she had undergone fusion surgery for about a decade earlier. As a result, she also underwent surgery that included the insertion of new hardware and allografts. The woman now needed a cane to help her walk on irregular surfaces. She claimed that the retail establishment was liable because the altercation concerned one of its products. The woman also noted that, despite the physical altercation, the establishment continued to retain this employee a year later. This case settled for $725,000.
- 2019, California: $400,000 Settlement. A hotel guest died after she drowned in the hotel’s pool. Her estate alleged that the hotel neglected to provide an on-duty lifeguard, neglected to light the pool, neglected to provide pool safety equipment, and failed to post signs that showed pool use hours. This case settled for $400,000.
- 2019, California: $335,255 Verdict. A woman suffered spinal injuries after slipping and falling on a grocery store’s wet floor. She alleged that the grocery store failed to properly maintain safe premises for its customers. She claimed that their negligence resulted in her injuries. The grocery store admitted that the woman slipped and fell at their store. However, they contended negligence, claiming that the woman was contributorily negligent. They also disputed her injuries’ extent and nature. Following a bench trial, the judge awarded a $335,255 verdict.
- 2019, Indiana: $300,000 Verdict. A woman injured her knee cartilage after she slipped and fell on the wet floor of a Speedway convenience store. She alleged that the surrounding floor became wet because of their employee’s mopping. The woman claimed that the Speedway was liable for creating a safety hazard around her. Speedway denied her allegations, claiming that its employee used a dry mop at the time. They also claimed that the snowy conditions outside caused the wet floor. The jury found that Speedway was 60 percent at fault, while the woman was 40 percent at fault. They awarded the woman a $300,000 verdict. However, her net award was $180,000.
- 2019, Georgia: $200,000 Verdict. A business invitee tripped and fell on an object as she walked toward the Big Lots store entrance. She suffered several injuries, including an elbow fracture. The woman sued Big Lots and one of their employees. She alleged that Big Lots failed to maintain safe premises, through their employee, who inappropriately placed an object near the store’s entrance, where it became a safety hazard. The jury assigned 90 percent of the fault to Big Lots and 10 percent of the fault to the woman. They awarded a $200,000 verdict. However, the woman’s net award was $180,000.