In the past, I have written on the value of fractured and broken 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 in any way. So besides the other reasons that I have suggested in the past that could distort this data (most namely, the fact that many of these verdicts are self-reporting), it could also be that 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 filing a lawsuit. These statistics don’t pick that up. Also, if you are including settlements you have to realize that policy limits become a factor. Are we writing smaller policies in Maryland than our neighbors are?
I have mentioned others reasons why 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 really 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 kind of 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.