Jury Verdict Research reports this week that the median jury award over the past 10 years, in personal injury cases involving arthritis injuries, is $38,867.00.
This study involved personal injury verdicts where the victim’s primary injury involved inflammation, pain, and/or weakness to their joints or muscles. The study underscored what personal injury lawyers around the country have long known about fibromyalgia cases: juries struggle with them. This is borne out by the numbers – the median jury award of what we would call “pure” arthritis cases is $121,538.00; the median fibromyalgia jury award is approximately $23,000.00.
Insurance adjusters love to ignore Maryland law that provides recovery for exacerbations of preexisting injuries. When they are not ignoring that law, they are bundling all the injury victim’s problems and drop them on the doorstep of the original injury.
Many attorneys run from taking preexisting injury cases – particularly when the prior injury is serious – because they fear they cannot apportion the harm. If there are two or more causes of an injury, and indivisibility is not apparent, a Maryland plaintiff has to show either (1) the harm is not divisible, or (2) Both the preexisting cause and the new cause produced the harm. Sometimes this is an impossible hurdle but, in most cases, this task is very doable when lawyers take the time and money to get the medical opinions before accepting or rejecting the case.
The following are recent verdicts and settlements in personal injury cases involving arthritis:
- 2020, Florida: $450,913 Verdict. A USPS-owned delivery vehicle attempted to turn left and struck a woman’s vehicle, causing it to overturn. The woman suffered the aggravation of her pre-existing arthritis, the aggravation of her pre-existing bronchial issues, a head injury, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her head injury developed into post-concussive syndrome. She alleged that the Postal Service driver failed to yield the right-of-way. The Postal Service disputed the nature and extent of the woman’s injuries. The court ruled in favor of the woman and awarded $450,913.
- 2020, California: $1,200,000 Settlement. A 65-year-old woman attended a show at a city-run performance arts center. She tripped on exposed wire in a darkened area of the center. The woman suffered fractures to her heel and ankle. She also suffered post-traumatic arthritis. Her counsel claimed that she would need triple arthrodesis surgery to treat her injuries. She sued the City of Cerritos for creating dangerous conditions by failing to properly inspect and maintain the premises. The woman also contended that triple arthrodesis surgery would leave her with limited function. This case would settle for $1,200,000.
- 2019, Washington: $500,000 Settlement. A construction worker fell into an unprotected depression while doing demolition work. He twisted his foot and ankle. The man was eventually diagnosed with a left heel bone fracture and traumatic calcaneocuboid joint arthritis. He underwent triple fusion surgery to his midtarsal joint to treat his injuries. The case settled for $500,000. This case underscores, unfortunately, how hard it is to piece of the arthritis part of a case. Obviously, the bulk of this award was not for arthritis but this is how compensation for arthritis usually presents itself, as a co-traveler with other injuries.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $20,000 Arbitration Award. A man’s vehicle was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. He suffered several spinal injuries, cervical radiculopathy, and a left shoulder tear. The man underwent surgery to repair his left shoulder, which ultimately resulted in arthritis. He sued the other driver for failing to stop at a red light and take evasive action to avoid a collision. The board of arbitrators ruled in favor of the man and awarded him $20,000.
- 2019, Iowa: $15,000 Verdict. A pedestrian experienced the aggravation of his pre-existing arthritis after a vehicle backed into him in a grocery store parking lot. He sued the driver for negligence and the car’s owner for vicarious liability. They both denied liability, claiming that the man failed to keep a proper lookout. The jury awarded $15,000.
- 2019, Florida: $400,000 Settlement. A 71-year-old woman was rear-ended by an unidentifiable motorist in a stolen vehicle. She suffered a brain injury, post-traumatic headaches, spinal pain, a disc herniation, and the aggravation of his right knee and ankle’s degenerative arthritis. The woman contended that the tortfeasor ran a red light at over 100 mph before rear-ending her vehicle at an intersection. This case settled for $400,000.
- 2018, New Jersey: $90,000 Settlement. A 50-something woman was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck on the passenger side as it entered a strip mall. Her host vehicle then struck another vehicle, which was leaving the strip mall. She suffered multiple disc herniations and bulges as well as the aggravation of her previously asymptomatic arthritis. Before trial, the case settled for $90,000.
- 2018, New York: $300,000 Settlement. A 55-year-old woman slipped and fell on a puddle of water in a hospital. She was there to visit an emergency room patient. The woman suffered a meniscus tear and traumatic arthritis. She would need arthroscopic surgery to repair her tear and knee replacement surgery to treat her arthritis. The woman sued the hospital for failing to maintain the premises. She noted the puddle came from a pitcher on a nurse’s desk. The hospital contended her injuries, claiming she had surgery on her ACL ten years ago. The woman maintained that the knee fluid revealed in her MRI was new and unrelated to the prior surgery. This case settled for $300,000.