Jury Verdict Research found earlier this year that the average money damage award for personal injury trials in California is $1,814,094. The median verdict, perhaps a better statistic, is $114,305. Other interesting facts from the study:
- The median verdict in a wrongful death case is $2,212,936, compared to the national average of $1,450,000
- Approximately 17% of the verdicts in California were back and neck strains. They pull the median and average verdicts down. The median back and neck strain verdict was $10,885
- California plaintiffs in personal injury cases received an award 41% of the time.
- The median California disc injury verdict was $84,550 compared to the national average of $50,000.
- Brain injury verdicts are worth more in California, but not as much as a lot of other types of injuries. The median for California brain injuries is $1,595,000. Nationally, the median verdict is $1,400,000
It is certainly fair to summarize all of this by saying that juries in California put a higher value on personal injury cases than the average American does.
Sample California Verdicts
Below are some sample verdicts and settlement in traffic accident cases in California in 2012-2013. These are helpful in learning the value of your accident claim. But, please, take them with a grain of salt, too. No two cases are the same, and there are many variables that can’t be covered in these summaries.
- Petterson v. Ghaemi | 2012 | $31,178 Verdict. A Zurich insured defendant is driving his tow truck when he makes a left hand turn into the plaintiff. Plaintiff and her passengers, two adults and three-year-old child, are all injured in the crash. Among the injuries are disc protrusions, neuroformal stenosis, reduced motion in waist and neck, and soft tissue injuries. The defendant denies liability and disputes the reasonableness of plaintiff’s chiropractic sessions. A Los Angeles County jury awards a $31,178 verdict.
- Goodman v. Marshall | 2012 | $1,850,000 Settlement. A 47-year-old dentist is rear-ended by a 16-year-old going 50 mph in his dad’s car. The teenager later admits having been illegally under the influence of his friend’s prescription drugs. Plaintiff suffers severe injuries from the crash, including a constant and permanent pain. The dentist is forced to see orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists in an attempt to alleviate the pain and damage to his back. Defendant admits responsibility but claims that plaintiff only sustained soft tissue injuries that should have healed in a few weeks; anything further was prior conditions and stresses related to dentistry. Eventually, the defendant’s insurance carrier Navigator made an acceptable $1,850,000 offer. Defendant’s father’s insurance, ASCS, paid $15,000 as the owner of the vehicle.
- Corbin v. Pascarella | 2012 | $10,400 Verdict. A driver insured by the Interinsurance Exchange of the Auto Club runs into plaintiff in an intersection. The crash causes lower back, neck, and shoulder pain to plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter. Defendant settles her claim privately with the mother, but a Los Angeles County jury awards a $10,400 verdict to the daughter.
- Reveles v. O’Neal | 2013 | $5,000 Verdict. Defendant driver crossed the double yellow line and ran head first into the plaintiff. Plaintiff receives injuries costing $70,000 in medical bills, but the information is not presented at trial because he did not call a doctor to testify. A San Diego County awards $5,000, which is paid by defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.
- DuCharme v. Christian | 2012 | $100,000 Settlement. A 19-year-old college student was driving late at night when she is struck by State Farm insured defendant. The defendant was intoxicated at the time and made an illegal left-hand turn. The young plaintiff receives severe injuries and must be taken to a hospital by ambulance. Plaintiff undergoes several surgeries on her arm to treat the fractures and nerve displacement. She requires aggressive titanium screws, aggressive rehabilitation, and continually suffers from pain in her arm, elbow, and wrist. The parties reached a $100,000 settlement.
- In re Ricalde | 2012 | $15,000 Verdict. Plaintiff is a nine-year-old passenger in his mother’s vehicle. He is injured when the car is broadsided by GEICO insured defendant. The victim suffers a toe fracture and is awarded $15,000 by a San Diego County jury.
- Merrill v. Sotos | 2012 | $50,000 Settlement. Defendant driver, suddenly and without warning, ignores the red traffic light and speeds into an intersection. He rams into the plaintiff head-on. The plaintiff is knocked unconscious and receives several back fractures and spine sprains. Plaintiff sues both defendant driver and Allstate, his UIM carrier. The unnamed county jury awards the victim $15,000 to be paid by defendant’s insurance carrier, Farmers, and $35,000 to be paid by Allstate.
- Tapola v. Mercury Insurance Company | 2012 | $1,137,500 Settlement. A family is driving down a lonely rural California road. A defendant driver comes from the opposite direction and fails to yield when performing a left turn. The horrific crash is so severe it traps the plaintiffs inside their vehicle. The sister suffers a permanent disfigurement to her foot that features constant swelling, pain, and is slightly shorter than the other. The mother, who is five months pregnant, is cut out of the wreckage and transported to the hospital by helicopter. She loses the baby. She additionally suffers a broken femur and pelvic fracture
which requires several operations and support implants. Her extended hospital stay causes her to start coughing up blood and eventually developing pulmonary embolism, which requires more surgery. The defendants admitted liability and his insurance carrier, Mercury Insurance Co., settled in Los Angeles County for $1,137,500.
- Wawanesa General Insurance Co. v. Gonzalez | 2012 | $2,415 Settlement. The defendant is involved in an accident with plaintiff’s insured. Defendant caused the plaintiff $118,731 in damages, and plaintiff seeks subrogation. The San Diego County jury only awards Wawanesa General Insurance Co. $2,415.
- Tompkins v. Modafferi | 2012 $100,000 Settlement. A 43-year-old plaintiff is crossing the street when he is struck by State Farm insured defendant. Plaintiff receives fractures in both of his legs that require surgery to treat. He is advised that he may need two total knee replacement operations in the future. Defendant denies liability and claims that the victim was not on the crosswalk. Police who were at the scene placed 100% of the fault on a plaintiff, but the parties still reach a $100,000 settlement.
- Messina v. Bayne | 2012 | $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped with traffic when he is rear-ended by Farmers insured defendant driver. Plaintiff initially only took one day off and returned to his work at Trader Joe’s, but soon saw a chiropractor four different times. He claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale, and later switches chiropractors and attends more sessions. Plaintiff later takes an additional 11 days off of work and attends a physical therapy from February 2010 to November 2010. Farmers insurance contests the validity of the chiropractor visits and denies the additional lost wages claims. A San Bernardino County jury, however, awards the plaintiff all the damages he was seeking.
- Wong v. Tom | 2012 | $7,363,761 Verdict. A fully loaded family car is traveling on the highway. The defendant, insured by CSAA, collides with the plaintiffs. The father is killed outright, and the mother receives fractured ribs, facial burns and bruises, hip injuries, and emotional distress. The daughter receives a broken arm, facial lacerations, and emotional distress while the relatively unscathed son suffers a loss of consortium. The defendant is discovered to have been intoxicated at the time of the accident and the plaintiffs seek further punitive damages for his malicious conduct. A San Mateo County awards the surviving family members $7,363,761.
- Trinh v. Elissa | 2012 | $125,000 Verdict. Plaintiff is an in-line skater who is rolling across a parking lot with a group of friends. The defendant is driving his car in the wrong direction and runs into the skater. The impact breaks the plaintiff’s femur that requires surgery, screws, and rods. Plaintiff claims the defendant was negligently driving. Defendant counters that it was dark at the time of the accident and that the skater was moving at an unsafe speed on the wrong side of the entry way. Defendant presents the police report as evidence that primarily faults the plaintiff. However, Mercury Insurance, defendant’s carrier, is directed to pay out $125,000.
- Harvey v. Torres | 2012 | $331,705 Settlement. The plaintiff is waiting at a red light when the State Farm insured defendant driver rear-ends his vehicle. Plaintiff receives several back and shoulder injuries. An MRI reveals an annular disruption and an S1 compression. The plaintiff receives four lumbar spinal epidural injections to attempt to ease the pain. Plaintiff contends that the accident and all of his injuries were caused by defendant’s negligence. Defendant accepts liability but claims that the spine injuries were preexisting. State Farm, who is both defendant’s and the UIM carrier, settles with plaintiff for $331,705.