What Percentage of Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

What Percentage of Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial

What percentage of personal injury cases go to trial? Most personal injury cases can be resolved outside of court. However, this is often only possible after the plaintiff files a suit. According to the BJS report, 96% of tort claims do not go to trial. There are many reasons why this is so, including:

  • The plaintiff withdrew the claim
  • The claimant was not able to pursue any further action after the insurer rejected the claim
  • They reached a settlement agreement
  • The case was never investigated further
  • The judge dismissed the case or issued a default judgment

Lawyers Prepare for Trial to Win Settlements

It doesn’t matter if you are a plaintiff or an advocate, there is a possibility that your personal injury case will not go to trial. Good personal injury lawyers prepare for the possibility of a court fight not only because they are logically prudent but also because it is a smart strategy to pursue litigation. An injury case built for success may win in negotiations well before it gets to trial.

A car accident case is more likely to settle for the amount that an attorney wants for their client if there’s medical evidence of negligence and proof of the client’s injuries.

Large corporations and insurance companies aren’t interested in losing publically, admitting wrongdoing, or inviting lawsuits through appearance weakness. Even less are they interested in losing. They will pay the claim privately, even if it is higher than they would like. This is the lesser of evils. They save money in the long-term on litigation costs, which can be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars if the case drags on. There is no guarantee that the trial will end in their favor.

A Look at Tort Cases That Go to Trial

It’s possible that an injury case will be brought to court. Knowing how these cases are handled in court is helpful for strategic reasons. This information is also helpful to inform clients about the expectations at pre-trial. The BJS provided valuable insight into the following:

  • Winners of the trial
  • Plaintiffs receive compensation
  • Punitive damages
  • Processing times for cases
  • Activity after trial

60% of the 26,928 torts, contract, and real estate cases were from tort cases. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 16,397 tort cases were brought to trial in the United States during the period the study was conducted. This amount is only 4% of all personal injury cases that were filed in court, as previously stated.

The Majority of Personal Injury Cases Are Tried Before a Jury

Juries are often called upon to hear tort cases. Juries usually hear 90% of these cases while judges adjudicate the remaining 10%. Plaintiffs and defendants both have the right to a jury trial. However, if neither party requests it, a judge will be heard by default.

A jury is more likely to hear cases involving car accidents, medical malpractice, and premises liability. A judge decides cases involving slander/libel and conversion, false arrest, or imprisonment.

More Car Accidents Go to Trial Than Any Other Tort Case

The Department of Justice breaks down the data into the types of injury claims that will go to trial.

  • 60% of tort trials involved motor vehicle accidents
  • 15% of these cases were for medical malpractice
  • 11% of cases involved premises liability
  • 4% were intentional torts
  • 2 % were product liability cases

The remaining 8% were:

  • Animal attacks
  • Slander/libel
  • False arrest/imprisonment
  • Professional malpractice
  • Conversion
  • Other torts

People Tend to Sue Other People More Than They Sue Businesses

The defendant in most cases where an individual has brought a case was another person. This is 53% of all trials, according to statistics. Other individuals are more likely to be sued for car accidents, animal attacks, medical malpractice, and premises liability. However, businesses are frequently brought into court for product liability and product liability. 27% of tort cases were brought by businesses. 15% of the trials were dominated by hospitals and government agencies.

Who Wins in Tort Cases Trials?

It is not surprising that the data about who wins in a personal injury case trial between plaintiffs or defendants is essentially a toss-up. The Bureau of Statistics data shows that plaintiffs won slightly less than half of all personal injury trials. The study shows that a jury trial is more likely than a trial by a judge.

  • In 56% of all trials that they adjudicate, judges ruled in favor of plaintiffs.
  • In 51% of the cases, the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

These personal injury attorneys are better placed to know the judges and jury pool within their jurisdiction in order to determine the outcome of a trial. This is more important than looking at statistical data to help them find a way forward.

The Percentage of Plaintiffs Who Win Varies Based on the Case Type

However, there is more data available on the differences in outcomes for different types of tort cases. The type of case in which the plaintiff was involved in a lawsuit impacted how much they won. These are the estimated wins for plaintiffs:

  • 75% of animal attacks cases
  • 64% of cases involving automobile accidents
  • 55% of cases involving asbestos product liability
  • 52% of intentional torts cases
  • 38% of premises liability cases
  • 22% of cases of medical malpractice
  • 20% of non-asbestos product liabilities
  • 16% of cases involving false arrests or imprisonment

The outcomes of multiple types of personal injury cases were similar for plaintiffs, even though the fact finder may have been a judge or jury. In motor vehicle accidents, premise liability, and professional malpractice cases, juries and judges tended to favor the plaintiffs at almost the same rate.

Surprisingly, judges were more likely to find plaintiffs in medical negligence cases than juries. The plaintiffs won 50% of the medical malpractice cases that were tried before a judge, while only 23% of cases were tried before a jury. Conversion cases were more likely to be ruled for by judges. Juries ruled in favor of plaintiffs in cases involving animal attacks, general product liability, false arrest and imprisonment, as well as slander/libel.

In Personal Injury Cases, Court Damages Are Awarded

In many types of cases, plaintiffs receive very modest court awards. According to the BJS report, $15,000 was the median amount of compensation for automobile accidents. Plaintiffs in an animal attack and slander, intentional tort, and conversion trials, won $38,000 in damages.

Other types of cases such as professional liability, product liability, and premise liability saw plaintiffs win substantially more. The median court award for medical malpractice, professional liability, and the premise was more than $400,000.

In 30% of the medical malpractice cases, the court awarded $1,000,000 or more. These high-damage awards were likely to be related to the two-fifths of medical malpractice cases that involved wrongful death claims. Data also shows that juries are more likely to be ruled on cases by judges than they are by judges.

Punitive Damages Are Rarely Sought or Awarded

Together, economic and non-economic damages account for 90% of all monetary awards made to plaintiffs. 47% of the total monetary awards were for economic damages, while 44% went for non-economic damages.

Nearly 10% of the trial damages awarded to plaintiffs were made up of punitive damages.

These exemplary damages are not often sought in tort cases. This may be due to the strict criteria states have for awarding punitive damage, which requires plaintiffs to prove gross negligence or intentional acts. They may also be limited in the cases in that they can be sought.

In 9% of tort trials that they won, plaintiffs only sought punitive damages. These damages were most commonly sought in conversion cases, slander/libel, and intentional tort cases. They are responsible for 69% and 33% respectively of conversion damages.

What Is the Percentage of Personal Injury Cases That Go to Trial?

For reasons that may not be obvious, cases tried by judges are generally processed quicker than those before a jury. The case must be considered and decided by the judges. There are many considerations and accommodations that must be made in jury trials.

Half of the cases involving torts were tried before a jury. It took 23 months from the initial filing to a resolution, compared to 18 months for a case that was tried before a judge. The median time taken to complete all court cases was 22 months. Courts tend to resolve injury cases such as animal attacks and car accidents quicker than medical malpractice, product liability, or intentional tort cases.

Preparing for Court Is Just as Important as Developing a Litigation Strategy

Although 96% of personal injury cases do not go to trial, it is dangerous to assume that the case will settle. It is best to prepare for a court fight from the beginning. This will put you and your client in a better position to negotiate a settlement. You can always go to court if the settlement does not work out.

Before you file a lawsuit, it is important to have a solid litigation strategyYou’ll miss crucial – and sometimes irretrievable – opportunities to achieve your client’s objectives if your tactical decisions are reactionary or on-the-fly. These are the key elements of a litigation strategy that aims to maximize court results:

Choose the Jurisdiction in Which You Will Be Tried

If you have the option to choose from multiple jurisdictions, you should consider the laws of that area, how cases are handled, the experience of the court with similar cases, and the size of the jury pool.

The Judge in Charge of the Trial

It is important to research your judge so you can find out what their views are on granting or disallowing motions, how they behave in court, their courtroom expectations, and their propensity to admit or exclude expert testimony. Also, look into their past decisions.

The Opposing Attorney

Your case will be influenced by the opposing counsel. It is important to get to know them. It is important to know the court’s history, their preferred method of litigation, whether they prefer to settle quickly, file motions for dismissal, and if there are any expert witnesses. Also, it is essential to know your opponent in order to plan your litigation strategy.

Be Ready for Trial Despite the Statistics

Attorneys who wish to achieve the best possible results for their clients will benefit from knowing the statistics surrounding personal injury cases. The best way to ensure a positive outcome for your clients is to prepare every case for trial, even if it doesn’t happen.

If you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence of another party, it is important to seek the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney. The legal process can be complex and overwhelming, but a skilled attorney can guide you through the process and fight to protect your rights. 

At The Black Law Company, we have a proven track record of successfully representing clients in personal injury cases. Our experienced attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you. Remember, the sooner you act, the better your chances of a successful outcome.

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