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.
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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.