In the past, I have written on the value of fractured legs. Now, in a relentless, unyielding effort to cover the settlement and trial value of every single bone in the human anatomy, let’s thin slice broken legs a little thinner: femur fractures in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.
This month’s Metro Verdicts Monthly graph on the front of their publication compares verdict and settlement amounts for femur fractures in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Since 1987 the median verdict or settlement amount of a femur fracture case in the District of Columbia has been $250,000.00, and in Virginia, it has been $200,000.00. However, the median verdict or settlement in a femur fracture case in Maryland has been $75,000.00. The national average is $167,000.
Why are Maryland femur fracture cases valued at roughly 35% of the value of a femur fracture case in D.C. or Virginia? The Metro Verdicts Monthly graph has a disclaimer attached to the statistical analysis that any defense verdicts have been omitted from the formulation of these numbers but this would not skew the data. So besides the other reasons that I have suggested in the past that could distort this data (most namely, that many of these verdicts are self-reporting), maybe Virginia and D.C. insurance companies are more willing to let cases get filed in the first place, much less go to trial and get a trial report. I know I have settled a lot of femur fracture cases without ever suing. These statistics don’t pick that up. Also, if you are including settlements, you realize that policy limits become a factor. Are we writing smaller policies in Maryland than our neighbors are?
I have mentioned other reasons this data could be distorted to the point of not being a meaningful comparison before to the point of my having no confidence in its accuracy. So why do I keep writing about median and average verdicts and settlements? I find the data interesting and – informative in some ways. It means a lot of attorneys have gotten settlements and verdicts for femur fractures in the ballpark of $75,000. Really, I think to myself? I think that is ridiculously low. But does this data inform my settlement evaluation of cases? The way lawyers calculate settlement value is such a mosaic of different information, but I can’t deny that data like this, that I disagree with, does in some part enter my calculus.
Femur Fracture Verdicts and Settlements
- 2020, Texas: $775,000 Settlement. A man entered a gas station side door. He walked across a wet mat and then slipped and fell onto the floor. He suffered a right femur fracture. An ambulance brought him to the hospital, where he underwent a total knee replacement. Within two years, he fell three more times. He underwent surgery and physical therapy after each fall. The man sued the gas station’s owner for failing to promptly inspect its premises and to provide adequate warning. He claimed that his first fall significantly weakened him, and made him vulnerable to further falls. The case settled for $775,000.
- 2020, New York: $3,175,000 Settlement. A 39-year-old laborer was jackhammering in a building’s courtyard while standing on a 25-foot tall ladder. He fell into the sidewalk and fractured his orbital, his right femur, his right arm, and his right elbow. An ambulance brought him to the hospital, where the staff treated his right elbow with an external fixation device. He would later undergo open reduction internal fixation of his right elbow, right leg, and right wrist. The man was hospitalized for over a month. He then underwent inpatient rehabilitative treatment for six days and outpatient physical therapy for twelve days. The man claimed that he now suffered a limited range of motion to his elbow and leg. He now needed to use a cane and had not worked since the accident. The man sued the premises’ owner for failing to provide a safe work environment. This case settled for $3,175,000.
- 2020, Virginia: $250,000 Settlement. An SUV struck a 73-year-old pedestrian as she walked across the street. The woman suffered a crushed femur, a ruptured tendon in her thumb, multiple rib fractures, and multiple vertebrae fractures. She was hospitalized for almost a month and incurred about $176,000 in medical expenses. The driver was uninsured but used his sister’s $25,000 policy. The woman also had a $250,000 UIM policy from Liberty Mutual. Her counsel also obtained $105,000 in medical payments, PIP coverage, and no-fault coverage before they made a Medicare claim on her behalf. The total settlement amounted to the woman’s $250,000 UIM policy.
- 2019, California: $21,500,000 Verdict. A motorcyclist was sideswiped by a vehicle that illegally veered through a double-yellow-line carpool lane. The impact sent his motorcycle across the freeway, striking a flatbed truck. The man was ejected from his motorcycle and suffered fractures to his hand, femur, and vertebrae. He sued the driver for negligence and sought compensation for past and future physical pain and suffering. The driver admitted liability, and the trial only concerned damages. A jury awarded the man $21,500,000.
- 2019, Georgia: $14,934,000 Verdict. A 15-year-old boy was motorcycling on a motocross track. He ran off course and struck an exposed steel culvert pipe. The boy was airlifted to a hospital, where staff treated his nearly severed right leg. Specifically, he suffered fractures to his tibia, fibula, and femur. The boy also suffered multiple torn ligaments in his right knee. He underwent external fixation to repair his tibia and received intramedullary rod and screw implants to repair his fibula. The boy underwent three additional surgeries and physical therapy for four years. Doctors saved his leg, but his injuries were permanent, and he now walked with a limp. He claimed that his employment opportunities were now limited. He sued the facility’s owners, managers, and operators for failing to maintain safe conditions. The jury awarded a $14,934,000 verdict.
- 2019, Florida: $197,152 Arbitration Award. An 85-year-old nursing home resident fell and suffered a femur fracture. She was brought to the hospital, where she underwent closed reduction surgery on her fracture. After two days, surgeons addressed her fracture via open reduction and internal fixation. She was hospitalized for six days. The woman sued the nursing home’s operator for failing to ensure her safety. An arbitrator determined that the facility was liable and awarded the woman $197,152 in damages.