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
- Concussions: $22,638
- Skull Fractures: $100,000
- Cranial Nerve Damage: $160,095
- Head and Skull Injuries, Overall: $14,034
These may well be the most misleading statistics I have ever posted on this blog. Because these are median, not average verdict statistics. Almost one-fourth of skull fracture cases result in a verdict over $1 million (which includes skull fractures that cause no actual injury – we have seen those). Yet the median is only $100,000. I don’t know what the average head injury verdict is – I can’t find any statistics – but I’ll bet you the average verdict in a case with a permanent head injury is over $1.5 million.
The Factors that Matter
I talk here about the factors that matter most in personal injury cases. In head injury cases in Maryland, the big variables are going to be
- Liability: If there is no real liability dispute, this will greatly increase the trial and settlement value of your claim.
- Venue: If your case is in Baltimore City or Prince George’s County, it will have high value than anywhere else in Maryland. Not to say that you cannot get an excellent result, for example, on the Eastern Shore where juries are tougher. But it does make the hill a bit steeper.
- Is the Injury Permanent?: This is a big variable. Juries take very seriously what will happen over the rest of the victim’s life. Past pain and suffering is important, but it does not parallel pain that will last forever in the eyes of the jury.
- Quality Plaintiffs: This matter so much more than even I realize sometimes. A jury has to believe the plaintiff is “worthy” and jurors take a lot of different paths in determining whether the victim is deserving. The biggest single ingredient in this intangible “worthy”: likability.
- Hatable Defendant: You don’t need a hateable defendant to get an excellent result. But it really makes it so much easier.
Head Injury Verdicts and Settlements
The following are examples of head injury verdicts and settlements:
- 2019, Texas: $203,445 Verdict. A woman’s vehicle was struck head-on by a driver who lost control of his vehicle as he was negotiating around a curve. She was brought to the hospital, where staff diagnosed her with a broken collarbone as well as permanent damage to her XI cranial nerve and C-5 disc. Her breast implant was also damaged, which necessitated plastic surgery. The woman and the tortfeasor settled for their policy limits. She then pursued UIM benefits from her carrier, Allstate. They denied her breast implant damage allegation and claimed that her settlement with the tortfeasor was adequate compensation for her fracture and nerve injuries. The jury awarded her $203,445.
- 2019, New York: $120,303 Settlement. A 4-year-old girl was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended. She suffered a skull fracture, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and a grade 3 concussion. The case settled for $120,303.
- 2019, Florida: $8,281,522 Verdict. This was the damages phase of a trial whose jury found the defendant 10 percent negligent and the plaintiff 90 percent negligent two years before. A 50-something man’s vehicle was struck as he attempted to cross an intersection. He was transported to the hospital, where staff diagnosed him with fractures to his clavicle, shoulder, arms, ribs, wrists, shins, femur, and lumbar. Staff also diagnosed him with pulmonary edema caused by internal bleeding in his lungs. His medical experts also testified that he experienced damage to his sixth cranial nerve. He was rendered legally blind as a result. The man also suffered a traumatic brain injury that affected his speech, memory, and cognition. He was unable to return to his job at Walmart. The jury awarded $8,281,522 in damages. However, the final judgment amounted to $600,000.
- 2019, New York: $50,000 Settlement. A 9-year-old pedestrian was struck by a vehicle as he walked across an intersection. He suffered a right mid-parietal fracture, a brain hemorrhage, a skull fracture, and a scalp laceration. The driver denied liability for the accident. This case settled for $50,000.
- 2018, Washington: $150,000 Settlement. A 38-year-old man collided head-on with a truck that made an improper left-turn. He suffered a skull fracture, specifically a temporal bone fracture that resulted in inner ear pressure. The man also suffered soft-tissue injuries to his chest, neck, and shoulder. An ambulance transported him to the hospital at the scene. The hospital staff discharged him shortly after being evaluated. He sought treatment with his primary care physician, an otolaryngologist, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a psychiatrist, and a massage therapist. The case settled for $150,000.
Getting a Lawyer for Your Head Injury Claim
We have handled scores of serious head injury cases. We know the science, the medicine, and how to put these claims in a position to win. If you have a head injury claim in Maryland, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online case review.
Articles of Interest
- Second-Impact Syndrome and a Small Subdural Hematoma: An Uncommon Catastrophic Result of Repetitive Head Injury with a Characteristic Imaging Appearance, J Neurotrauma 27:2557-1564 (2010) (trivial trauma after an earlier head injury may sometimes lead to catastrophic brain swelling with even a small subdural hemorrhage).
- Anoxic brain injuries
- The settlement value of concussion cases