COVID-19 Notice: We are providing FREE consultations via phone or video conferencing for your safety and convenience. Learn More »

Articles Posted in Personal Injury Verdicts

image describing what a wrist injury is and why they are on the rise

Click to enlarge

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 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.

Metro Verdicts Monthly’s cover graph is failure to diagnose breast cancer settlements and verdicts in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

rx3By some estimates, between 8% and 12% of cancer cases are initially misdiagnosed. It is hard to call one type of cancer misdiagnosis case more tragic than another. Every misdiagnosis is going to decrease the chance of treating and defeating the cancer. But, many cancer misdiagnosis cases are not medical malpractice cases because the cancer is so aggressive, but breast cancer misdiagnosis cases are fueled by tragedy because breast cancer is often extremely manageable when caught early, and often fatal when missed. Continue reading

Headaches

What is the value of head injury cases?

I’m fortunate in that I don’t get many headaches, a blessing I attribute to good hydration and genetic good fortune. On the rare occasion that I do get headaches, they are debilitating. It is hard to enjoy much of anything in life when you have anything north of a mild headache.

Juries struggle with figuring out how to value personal injury cases when the primary injury is a head injury that caused —  and may continue to cause — headaches.

image describing what a vertebrae fracture is

Click to enlarge

A Jury Verdict Research report found that over the last ten years, the national median award at trial in personal injury cases for a vertebra fracture is $112,537. Almost two-thirds of the cases in the study were motor vehicle accidents, which is the leading cause of spinal injuries in this country.  Our lawyers have seen a lot of these spinal cord injuries, particularly from motorcycle accidents.  Not surprisingly, the median award for multiple vertebrae fractures is almost double the single vertebra amount, $207,000.

When I first read this report, I assumed these vertebral fracture numbers were low because they excluded cases where there was a spinal cord or head injury. But apparently, 7.5% of the verdicts were in excess of $2,500,000, which means they have to include vertebrae fractures where the spinal cord was implicated or there was an accompanying head injury.

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 losing 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 product liability cases. Many product 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.

doctors-with-medicals-300x200
There are not many malpractice settlements and verdicts in Hawaii.  Here are three that I found and the awards or settlements are significant:

  • 2019, Hawaii: $18,760,000 Settlement. A woman suffered an end-stage renal disease after experiencing a sepsis-related infection while giving birth at Tripler Medical Center. She experienced repeated and increased hypotension and tachycardia episodes after being transferred to the postpartum unit. Her lab results showed that she developed sepsis and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. She eventually suffered permanent kidney damage. An infectious disease expert confirmed the group A streptococcus that resulted in toxic shock syndrome, sepsis, and bacteremia. Upon being discharged, she underwent hemodialysis three times a week. Within two years, she was hospitalized for gallstones and increased fluid in her abdomen. She and her husband sued Tripler for failing to timely diagnose or treat her kidney failure. They allege that she now needed a kidney transplant and other organ transplants throughout her life.  The magistrate judge initially awarded $24,743,668. However, the federal government appealed the case. It eventually settled for $18,760,000.
  • 2013, Hawaii: $4,250,000 Award. A 15-year-old became paralyzed from the neck down after receiving steroid treatment for lupus. She developed a facial rash and slurred speech while visiting Hawaii with her family. She saw a pediatric rheumatologist, who diagnosed her with lupus. An MRI revealed some white matter density in her brain. Upon hospital admission, the rheumatologist prescribed weekly methylprednisone and prednisone doses to be taken for four weeks. The teenager responded well to the medication; her speech resolved, and her blood tests showed no increases in lupus antibodies. The rheumatologist had her continue this regimen. Right before the fourth week, the teen complained of muscle weakness. Her mother had her stop taking the medications. She eventually showed myopathy signs and was subsequently admitted to the hospital. She eventually could not move her body from the neck down. The teen and her mother sued the treating medical center for prescribing a high steroid dose. She now needed lifetime medical care because of her injuries. The first trial, held in 2009, awarded $6,150,000. However, the Hawaiian Supreme Court ordered a new trial based on erroneous evidence. The second trial’s jury awarded $4,250,000, which the court reduced to $1,800,000.

emotionalOur clients sometimes incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.  They should be compensated for those bills. But the bigger harm in personal injury cases is the physical and emotional pain and suffering that comes with the victims’ injuries.

Today, we will look at compensation for emotional injuries in accident and medical malpractice cases to get a better idea of how much money victims can expect to receive as compensation for this type on intangible but often the most important injury.

Emotional Damages Statistics

Let’s start out with some hard numbers on compensation for emotional injuries nationally, provided by Jury Verdict Research.  This category includes cases involving emotional distress or post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Continue reading

Infographic explaining what a herniated disc is

Click to enlarge

Metro Verdicts Monthly’s graph in this month’s issue is median settlements and verdicts in cervical (neck) herniated disc cases in Maryland, Washington, D.C, and Virginia. The median cervical herniated disc case in Maryland is $40,000. The Washington D.C. and Virginia medians are $50,000 and $36,000, respectively.

Settlement Values Vary Wildly

Saying you suffered a head injury in an accident is like saying your nephew is an actor. He might be Will Smith, but he also might be an understudy in a local dinner theater production.

Head injuries to automobile occupants have been shown to be a major cause of death and permanent brain injury within the U.S. and internationally. Head injuries vary from headaches that resolve quickly to brain damage that destroys a life. The data on head injury verdicts does not leave a good impression of the settlement value of head injury cases:

  • Head Lacerations and Contusions: $10,016

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 know these cases, call 800-553-8082 or get a free Internet consultation.

I think I have a 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. I probably met with a half dozen of the best foot and ankle surgeons in the country in connection with that case.

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.  (Here is a video providing the story of that case.)   My point is we know the science of these cases. We know 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.  These are from a few years ago. But I think the number has not changed in 2019.  Sure, some ankle fractures can be treated with conservative care if the fracture displacement is two millimeters or fewer or if there is no talar shift.  But I can’t 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.  Either way, these numbers are just way too low. The loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress from these injuries are often extreme even before we talk about how painful they are.

One problem 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 broken ankle together.

Two Take-Homes from These Ankle Statistics

Two more points of interest in this data. First, don’t get a broken 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 wrote an article about how Jury Verdict Research Case Evaluation Software was predicting the value of claims 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 are the midpoint of the data, not the average. So included in the math are many 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.

20 Factors That Impact Your Ankle Injury Settlement

These are 20 factors that drive the trial and settlement value of your ankle fracture case.

  1. Surgery
  2. Surgery with internal fixation (hardware)
  3. Open reduction surgery
  4. Complex fracture
  5. Displace bone
  6. Continued ankle swelling (synovitis)
  7. Synovitis with chondral changes
  8. Signs of arthritic changes
  9. Arthrofibrosis
  10. Chondral injuries
  11. Loose bodies
  12. Nerve Damage
  13. An ankle replacement
  14. Walking with a limp
  15. Non-weight bearing ankle
  16. High past and future medical bills
  17. Permanent ligament or tendon damage
  18. A crush injury
  19. Permanent instability
  20. Amputation

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

The types of cases that do not do as well are preexisting ankle injury cases and soft tissue injury cases where there is no objective finding on a diagnostic test.

Ankle-injury-statistic-updated-300x169

Click to enlarge

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.

  • 2020, Missouri: $225,000 Settlement – A woman broke her ankle after slipping and falling on an icy patch in a department store’s parking lot. A sub-contractor plowed around the parking lot but piled snow around the front of the store. The temperatures were chilly enough for icy patches to appear. Doctors performed open reduction and fixation surgery on the woman’s broken ankle. The case settled for $225,000.
  • 2020, Washington: $266,500 Verdict – A 29-year-old petroleum inspector was gauging a barge at a refinery. After doing so, he crossed a gangway and fell to the hard surface below. He suffered a herniated disc and ankle, foot, and neck injuries. The man sued the barge’s owner for negligence. He also claimed that he lost his job because of his injuries. The jury awarded him $266,500.
  • 2020, Florida: $720,000 Verdict – The 56-year-old bank manager fell as she exited a mixed-use building. She suffered an ankle fracture. The woman underwent multiple surgical procedures and months of physical therapy to treat her injuries. She sued the premise’s owner for negligently creating dangerous conditions. The jury assigned 90 percent liability to the premise’s owner and 10 percent liability to the woman. They determined that the damages totaled $720,000, but the woman could only recover $648,000 based on comparative negligence.
  • 2020, Virginia: $1,980,000 Settlement – A passenger was injured after the vehicle they were in went off-road and struck an illegally parked tractor-trailer. They suffered fractures to their sternum, ribs, and ankle. The passenger sued both their driver and the trucker.  They received a $1,980,000 settlement.
  • 2019, Pennsylvania: $475,000 Verdict – Our lawyers see a lot of ankle injuries in nursing homes.  Here, a woman’s foot became wedged under the bed, causing a fracture that required an ankle fusion.  She went through all of this while in the nursing home because she was recovering from a stroke.
  • 2018, New York: $2,400,000 Verdict –  A 72-year-old woman contended that her landlord would not fix her shower, requiring her to leave a drain uncovered.  She fell on the drain and suffered a bimalleolar ankle fracture, which is a tough ankle injury that often causes the victim permanent problems.  An angry jury awarded $12.4 million.
  • 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 because of the crash. The plaintiff had to have two screws permanently implanted in his leg and developed a permanent limp because of his injuries. The jury awarded him $96,789.  This is one of those cases I’m talking about, right?  A permanent limp is only worth $96,000?
  • 2013, Maryland: $260,506 Verdict – When the plaintiff was inside a Taco Bell restaurant, a fight ensued, and the plaintiff was struck in the face by an employee. He fell backward in 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 insurance company 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. The 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 the 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 at a crosswalk 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 iced 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 the 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 – In this motor vehicle accident case, a woman was struck by the at-fault driver trying to enter the roadway from a cross-street. She suffered an ankle fracture from the car accident. The parties eventually settled for $80,000.

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 bring your personal injury claim and get compensation.  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.

Contact Information