Tort law, that body of legislation that deals with situations where an individual is injured or harmed due to the wrongful or negligent act or failure to act by a third party, was until the 1970s simply part of common law the US adopted from English law. Today, however, tort law has become much more complex as legislation strives to keep up with the demand of circumstances. It is no secret that personal injury has become a major niche market for lawyers in the US. Here are some statistics to elucidate the current situation of personal injury litigation in the US.
According to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, more than 500,000 personal injury cases come up before the federal courts. Keeping in mind that only about 10% of all personal injury cases ever make it to trial on the state level, let alone the federal court, this represents a huge number of cases that are filed but settled out of court. This also means a lot of consultations with personal injury lawyers, which is why there is considerable competition for custom and why personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingent fee basis. It makes good sense, though, to stick with lawyers with a proven track record in successfully pursuing a claim for compensation.
Statistically, about half the cases that get to federal court are won by the plaintiff, with slightly better chances for those who waive a jury and lets the judge make the decision, and more than 80% of those succeed get monetary compensation. On average, the successful plaintiff is awarded $60,000 for compensation, and for the 6% that win punitive damages as well, the award averages $50,000. While preparation for a personal injury case might take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, the trial itself at the federal level takes about 4 days.
About 20% of all personal injury cases that get to trial involve a motor vehicle accident, while product liability and medical malpractice comprise 13% and 10% of all cases respectively. The remaining 57% or so cases are for other causes of personal injury.Read More