Every year, tens of millions of Americans require medical treatment due to injuries. Many of these injuries are deemed accidental. This can be misleading, however. Incidents like car crashes, slips and falls, work injuries, and medical injuries are often the result of human error, or negligence. They fall into the category of personal injury, which deals with harm caused by someone else’s failure to exercise reasonable care.
Personal injury lawsuits are among the most common cases in civil litigation. But if you’ve been injured because of negligence, there is nothing common about your situation. You could be facing mounting medical bills, the inability to work, and debilitating physical and psychological trauma.
Amid rising health care costs, injury victims are seeing higher recovery amounts. Like accidents, the ability to maximize your personal injury claim is not random. It is directly related to the law firm you hire.
Personal Injury Lawsuits on the Rise
A personal injury claim is a type of tort claim that requires proving liability (i.e., fault). If an injured party can show that an individual or business caused harm to their person or property, they are eligible to recover damages in the form of monetary compensation.
According to the CDC, 57.5 million Americans visit a physician each year for injuries, and 38 million go to the emergency department for injuries. Around half of these visits stem from routine illnesses and chronic health problems. The other half—24.8 million physical visits and 24.2 million ED visits—are attributed to what the CDC calls “accidents or unintentional injuries.”
Of these roughly 49 million accidental injuries, only a tiny fraction lead to a personal injury lawsuit. U.S. court data shows that approximately 200,000 – 300,000 personal injury lawsuits are filed annually. The number of injury filings surged nearly 100% in 2020.
- Motor vehicle accidents are by far the largest single source of personal injury lawsuits, representing around 50 – 60% of case filings.
- Premises liability claims that allege harm from dangerous or inadequately maintained property (e.g., slip, trip, and fall) are the second-largest type of personal injury case, at around 15-20%.
- Medical malpractice cases represent roughly 5% of personal injury lawsuits.
- Other personal injury cases include dog bites and animal attacks, nursing home abuse, and watercraft and aviation accidents.
Personal Injury Verdicts Also Increasing
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. Few go to trial, where a jury renders a verdict and issues damages.
However, there are benefits to taking a case to trial and a good personal injury lawyer welcomes the challenge. While juries can be unpredictable, and both sides may prefer to privately settle a case, statistics show that attorneys who are willing to try a case before a jury may reap rewards for their clients.
From 2014 to 2020, the median jury award in personal injury lawsuits increased from $75,000 to $125,000. Over the same period, the highest awards also went up, from $172 million to $373 million. In 2020, auto accident awards averaged $2.6 million and premises liability awards averaged $811,000.
A 2022 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that so-called “Nuclear Verdicts”—verdicts worth more than $10 million—grew in frequency and size from 2010 – 2019. The median verdict during that time went from $19.3 million to $24.6 million. “Nuclear verdicts” were most frequent in product liability, auto accident, premises liability, and medical malpractice cases.
Milberg’s Personal Injury Practice Group
People suffer serious injuries every day because of the negligence of others. The choices you make after a slip and fall, motor vehicle crash, animal attack, medical incident, or other unexpected injury have far-reaching consequences. Your choice of law firm is particularly important.
You may not know your rights, how much you’re owed, or the best way to approach negotiations. And unfortunately, unscrupulous parties might take advantage of your vulnerabilities to deny you fair compensation.
Milberg’s Personal Injury Practice Group attorneys have the resources, experience, and skill to take on insurance companies and other powerful entities—and win. We never back down from a legal fight and don’t hesitate to take cases to trial. We’ve recovered over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for our injury clients and handle every case on a contingency-fee basis.