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Myth No. 3 – “There is a lawsuit crisis in America. Juries are ready to award really big bucks to accident victims.”

This is wrong.

A generation ago, insurance companies started publicizing high jury verdicts, and claiming that juries were getting out of hand. They talked about a man who was trapped in a phone booth (remember them?) as a semi bore down on him who got a large award against the phone company because the doors stuck.

The insurance companies talked about an lady who was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars when she suffered severe burns from spilling McDonald’s coffee on her lap (It was much hotter than it needed to be; there had been over 700 complaints to McDonald’s that the coffee was too hot, including a letter from Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati asking McDonald’s to lower the temperature of its coffee so kids wouldn’t get burned.)

There was never a crisis. The verdicts were awarded by ordinary Americans who work every day after studying the evidence presented by attorneys for each side, and being read the law by a judge. In fact, jury trials are guaranteed by the United States Constitution for almost every lawsuit that is worth over $20.00. The founding fathers did this because they knew the best protection against injustice – against being unlucky enough to draw a single unfair judge – was the ability to get a trial before a jury of your peers.

What was happening was that insurance companies were trying to keep jury verdicts low, so they could make more money – or, if they weren’t choosing their customers carefully, so they could lose less.

In any event, there certainly is no crisis now. When I started taking personal injury lawsuits, I considered a fair settlement to be five times my client’s total medical bills. Now, nearly all lawsuits settle for a number far below five times the medical bills. Why is this true? In part, because insurance companies publicized the verdicts they didn’t like, and jurors reacted accordingly, without realizing that a lot of verdicts are for much less than what many people consider fair.

And a lot of people who have been injured cannot file suits now because the law has changed (For instance, it’s now virtually impossible to sue a property owner for supplying inadequate security against crimes, or to sue law enforcement for engaging in reckless car chases.)

And there are still more people who, if they do sue, cannot recover more than a certain amount of money for their injuries – again, because the legislature has limited, or “capped”, the amount that can be awarded.

As I said, juries are made up of hardworking people, like you and me, who are trying as hard as they can to do the fair and just thing. They don’t always agree with me, but if they think your damages are real, they will award them. Whether they feel that way depends – in part – on how hard your lawyer works.

If you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, though, you don’t have to speculate. You can call me, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK. My phone is 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

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