Articles Posted in Featured Lawsuits

The question of how much money to ask for in a car accident settlement hinges on whether you are an experienced car accident lawyer, whether you are willing to file a lawsuit, and the size of your claim.   At our law firm, all roads lead to the same Rome:  how to do we maximize the value of this case?   The demand is an important part of this equation.

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 that 26 % were just awful cases that never should have been filed.

I can’t say I’m a fan of any car insurance companies in Maryland.  Some are worst than others.  Here is my top 5 worst auto insurance companies to deal with list in personal injury cases.

#1 GEICO

GEICO has the largest market share in Maryland.  We see GEICO regularly. So that familiarity breeds contempt.

Why They Are AwfulGeico

GEICO makes the worst pre-suit offers of any of the big six insurance companies (State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, USAA, Erie).  So there’s that.

GEICO’s new generation of adjusters are increasingly condescending, laughing at demands and other histrionics that are very grating. You would never see the old school GEICO adjusters who are almost invariably professional and likable, even when I disagree with them (I’m Facebook friends with GEICO adjusters who I used to fight with in the old days.)

GEICO almost always put more money on a case when suit has been filed.  By then,  the claim is switched over to a litigation adjuster who is more likely to be a seasoned adjuster who can really value the case.   So the original adjuster never has to put his or her tail between his legs and increase the offer they once thought was hysterical.  Instead, these pre-suit adjusters are already on the phone telling another attorney or victim how silly their claim is.  These neophyte adjusters are firmly ensconced in their bubble and are never forced to face reality.   Continue reading

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.

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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.

Our law firm has successfully handled scores of serious knee injury cases. Most recently, we won a $5.2 million verdict in a knee injury case.  We fight for our clients. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

According to a recent Jury Verdict Research study on knee injuries:

  • the average verdict in a severe knee injury case is $359,149
  • the median knee injury verdict is $114,299
  • 8% of knee injury verdicts were over $1,000,000.

How do you define severe? JVR defines it as knee dislocation, fractures, replacements, and aggravation of a preexisting knee injury. I certainly understand the first three categories; aggravation of a preexisting knee injury more subjective and a little harder to define — and brings the average verdict lower.

Half of these cases are car accident lawsuits, and the other half includes every personal injury case under the sun. In Maryland, I’ll bet it is probably approaching 75% of the cases because we have fewer premises liability cases because of contributory negligence. It is the most frequent injury in premises liability cases, most from slip and falls.   So it is hard to extract much meaning from this average serious knee injury verdict. But there are a lot of numbers in the report that breaks it down a little further.

JVR does not provide the average accident knee injury verdict in motor vehicle collision cases. I wish they did because the average verdict always gets you more pumped up. But the median is probably more illustrative. The median knee injury verdict in a car accident case is $94,406. More interesting is the middle 50% – the 25th to the 75th percentile – ranges from $26,255-$216,726.  Obviously, that is a big range, and I would suggest that bottom quartile is not severe injury cases.

The last knee injury case we took to trial led to a $5.2 million verdict.  That was a severe injury case where the client required a below-the-knee amputation.

Knee injury verdict statistics

Here are some more knee injury verdict statistics of interest, at least, to me:knee3

  • Intersection collision accidents have a median of $70,748. The middle 50% range is $28,250-$237,500
  • Pedestrian accidents have a median of $150,000. The middle 50% range is $80,071-$240,000
  • Turning collision car accidents have a median of $90,203. The middle 50% range is $34,750-$192,038
  • Motorcycle accident knee injuries involve, as you would expect, more serious injuries. The median verdict is $191,884. The middle 50% range is $83,300-$287,500. Keep in mind, this is a survey of plaintiffs’ verdicts. The hard part in motorcycle accident cases is getting the verdict in the first place. It is amazing how many motorcycle accident lawsuits involve contested liability. Motorcycle cases get fought like World War III on liability in cases where the defendant’s lawyer would stipulate to liability under the same facts if the plaintiff were driving a car. It never ceases to amaze me. But I’ll admit there is a method to the madness: juries don’t like motorcyclists. Is this unfair? Of course it is. Can good counsel overcome it? Often, yes.
  • Rear end accident knee injuries have a median verdict of woeful $9,095. The middle 50% range is $1,624-$41,098. These statistics make sense.  There are just not a lot of knee injuries in rear-end accidents.  So many of the claims are those with preexisting injuries, which are the toughest cases to bring.  There are not a lot of serious “knee injuries only” in rear-end car accidents. If you hurt your knee badly in the accident, chances are you have a more serious injury than just your knee.

Keep in mind that all of these stats are third-party insurance claims.  Workers comp cases have an entirely different — and lower — formula to calculate the value of knee injury cases at work.

Hiring a lawyer to fight for you

If you have a knee injury claim in Maryland or Washington, D.C., call us today at 800-553-8082 so we can discuss your options.  You can also fill out this free claim evaluation form, and we can talk about your case online.  We have recovered millions for our client in knee injury cases, and we may be able to help you.

Herniated disc injury

Settlement value of disc injuries

The first case I tried for Miller & Zois 14 years ago was a herniated disc injury case.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  We got a $300,000 verdict in a case with a $15,000 offer that the defense lawyer seemed to think was a nuisance case because there was no visible property damage.

Since then, we have handled hundreds of disc injury accident claims. If another law firm has handled more herniated disc injury cases in Maryland, I’d like to know who that is. Our lawyers have spent a lot of time fine-tuning the science and the arguments to make at trial in these spinal injury cases.

I have always been particularly interested in verdict statistics in disc injury claims. Yesterday, I found some interesting data that looks at the median value of herniated disc injury claims based on the type of vehicle crash. The data provides two things: the median verdict and a probability range of verdict.

Of the two, I think the most interesting is the probability range. In this Jury Verdict Research Study, probability range is defined as the middle 50 percent of all awards arranged in ascending order in a sampling, 25% above and 25% below the median. In other words, it provides the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile of verdicts. I believe that for plaintiffs with a good law firm, who know how to prepare and try a disc injury case, I think the 75th percentile is probably the median.

Anyway, these are the numbers:

Accident Median Probability Range % of MVA Herniated Disc Cases
Truck Accidents $208,341 $66,975 – $605,101 10%
Overall $54,538 $17,575 – $180,017 80%
Intersection Collisions $50,000 $17,500 – $136,745 19%
Turning Collisions $47,781 $20,000 – $160,000 9%
Rear-End Collisions $47,500 $12,500 – $140,000 35%
Chain Reaction Collisions $40,000 $10,478 – $150,000 6%

The first thing that really stands out is the gap in the range, which is particularly pronounced as you might expect in truck accident crashes. I’m also surprised at how relatively low the statistics are for intersection accidents.

They are all motor vehicle accidents. What surprises me is how much more the value of herniated disc injuries explodes when taken outside of the motor tort context.  Look at these payouts by type of tort claim:

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Baltimore City settled a wrongful death and survival action by Freddie Gray’s family for $6.4 million.  The criminally unfair Maryland Local GovernmentBaltimore Police Tort Claim Act would have capped these claims at $400,000.  So Baltimore City settled for a whopping $6 million more than the maximum value of the case.   Said another way, the settlement was 16 times the cap for personal injury and wrongful death claims had this case taken the standard path and been heard by a Baltimore City jury.

High profile cases mold public perception in Baltimore and throughout Maryland about our civil justice system.  People form impressions on how well the system performs when placing a dollar amount on personal injury and wrongful death cases.

On some level, Freddie Gray is a Baltimore specific McDonald’s coffee case.  It has now been 24 years since Stella Liebeck spilled coffee on herself at a McDonald’s drive-through in New Mexico and that case continues to inform prospective jurors on how personal injury cases actually work.  Freddie Gray may leave a similar legacy in Baltimore.  What will that legacy be?  What misimpressions will juror carry into the jury box as a result of this case?  I believe there are unintended consequences to this settlement that will be felt for years.

I think these are the Freddy Gray takeaway messages:

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Maryland personal injury lawyers are not permitted to say that they specialize in personal injury law.  This may soon change.Law Book

The Maryland Court of Appeals is considering amendments to Rule 7.4 of the Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct that would permit a Maryland personal injury attorney — or any lawyer for that matter — who has been certified as a specialist in a particular area of law to hold themselves out to the public as a specialist.

What would the attorney’s qualifications be for specialization?  I think this may be the challenge that led the court to defer ruling on this issue, which they did last week.

[2018 Update: I DO specialize in personal injury law!  We are now allowed to make this claim.]

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There are an unbelievable number of variables involved in arriving at a settlement value for a personal injury case.  Compensation offers varyMoney and gold Scale of Justice wildly because there are so many different factors that have different weights attached to them.

But assuming there is no issue about the amount of money available* to pay on the claim,  the single most reliable predict of settlement value is the type of injury.  There are two key factors to consider when looking at the type of injury.

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