Articles Posted in Damages in Death Cases

It is Friday and we are covering verdict and trial statistics for the last of the largest four cities in Tennessee — Memphis/Shelby County,  the Thirtieth Judicial District.  

Last fiscal year, 1,747 new tort cases (lawsuits for personal injury or wrongful death) were filed in Shelby County courts and 1,817 were resolved.  Shelby County had more trials than any other county in the State with 76 — 53 jury trials and 23 bench trials.  Of those 76 trials, the injured party won 44 of the cases.  In the other 32 cases, the injured party did not receive any compensation whatsoever. 

In terms of verdicts, the total dollar amount awarded in all 44 trials was $10,891,198.00 for an average award of $247,527.00.  The verdicts can be broken down even further:  37 of the trials resulted in verdicts of less than $100,000.00; 5 of the trials resulted in verdicts ranging between $100,000.00 to $999,999.99; and 2 of the trials resulted in verdicts that exceeded One Million Dollars.  Obviously, a relatively small number of large verdicts had a significant impact on the average verdict figure.

Today, we are looking at trial and verdict information for Chattanooga/Hamilton County, which is the Eleventh Judicial District.  The Administrative Office of the Courts’ report reveals 711 tort lawsuits (claims for personal injury or wrongful death) were filed in Chattanooga during the last fiscal year and Chattanooga courts disposed of 693 tort cases.  During the last year, 37 cases went to trial in Chattanooga with 21 jury trials and 16 bench or judge trials.   Of the 37 cases went that actually went to trial, only 10 resulted in the injured party receiving any money.  So in more than 2/3 of the trials, the injured party received nothing.  

And in the cases the injured party actually won, the verdict news is similarly bleak.  Not a single case resulted in a verdict of $100,000.00 or more.  The total dollars awarded for all ten cases was $303,648.00 so the average award in each case was $30.365.00.  Of course, we do not know the facts of each one of those cases but we do know this: there is a reason they call it a trial.  It is hard, emotionally-draining and exhausting for the parties and their attorneys.  And most injured people who go through a trial expect their recovery to be more than that, and it should be if they have serious injuries. 

We really can not emphasize enough how important it is for you to select an experienced and well-qualified lawyer.  Of course, we hope you hire us and we believe our awards and client testimonials speak for themselves.  But even if you do not hire us, use this information sheet to help you find a skilled lawyer who can help maximize your recovery.  If you would like to schedule a free and no-obligation consultation, simply fill out this form or call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.  We handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.

This week, we are examining trial and case statistics from the Administrative Office of the Court’s yearly report, Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013.  Today, we take a closer look at Knoxville.  

Last year, 938 tort lawsuits (claims for personal injury or wrongful death) were filed in Knox County.  38 cases went to trial — 23 of them were jury trials and 15 were judge or bench trials.  Of the 38 case that went to trial, the injured party recovered money in less than half of those trials (18 of  38).  

Of the 18 cases that actually went to trial and resulted in a verdict for the injured or deceased party, 14 of those cases had an award in the range of $0 to $99,999.99.  Three cases had verdicts in the range of $100,000.00 to $999,999.99 and only one case had a verdict in excess of $1,000,000.00.   The average award for verdicts in Knox County, Tennessee was $149,205.00, a number driven significantly upward by the one verdict that was in excess of $1,000,000.

Last week, we told you that the Administrative Office of the Courts had published the Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013. The report provides information on the number of tort filings (lawsuits alleging personal injury or wrongful death), the number of trials and verdict information.  

Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee are in the Twentieth Judicial District. For the year ending June 30, 2013, 1,571 tort cases were filed in the Twentieth Judicial District and 1,441 tort cases were disposed of by either trial, motion, dismissal, etc. Only 66 cases went to trial in Davidson County – 35 were jury trials and 31 were bench or judge trials. Of the 66 cases that went to trial, 43 resulted in a verdict for the injured party. Here is the breakdown of the awards:

·        The vast majority of the cases (34 of them) resulted in verdicts that were less than $100,000.00. 

The Administrative Office of the Courts has released the Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013.  The report provides detailed information on each judicial district in the state. For instance, the report indicates the number of tort cases (claims for personal injury or wrongful death) filed in each district. It also provides information on how quickly cases are being disposed of in each district, the number of jury trials, the number of bench or judge trials, the average jury award, etc.  

At The Law Offices of John Day, P.C., we carefully review this report looking for trends in tort cases or in a particular judicial district. Over the next few days, we will be posting summaries from the report about the big four: Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville. And over the next few weeks, we will be updating our website to reflect the new data for individual judicial districts. 

But for today, here are the statewide numbers for the fiscal year 2012-2013:

A new law in Tennessee limits the amount of damages that can be awarded in a Tennessee wrongful death case.  

Under the new law, the family of a person who has died as a result of the negligent conduct of another person or company is limited to recovery of the following types of damages"

  1. Medical bills caused by the negligence.
  2. Funeral Bills.
  3. Lost earning capacity from the time of injury to death.
  4. Future lost earning capacity reduced by future personal maintenance expense.

There is no limit on the amount of money that can be awarded for these types of  losses.  The actual amount of money that can be recovered will depend on the evidence of the amount of loss for each one of these elements of loss.

Tennessee law permits the recovery of funeral and burial expenses as part of the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The case law is unclear about whether there is any limit on the amount of funeral and burial expenses that may be recoverable.  Presumably, the law permits only the recovery of a "reasonable" amount of such expenses, but there is no fixed dollar amount or any other guidance on this issue.

Therefore, evidence of the amount of funeral and burial expenses incurred must be gathered and presented as part an effort to settle a wrongful death case.   Appropriate evidence must also be introduced at trial in the event the case cannot be settled.

Here are the results for personal injury and wrongful death jury trials in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee for January, 201.

Automobile Case:  $339,163 for the Plaintiff

Automobile Case:  $143,451 plus $7500 for the Plaintiff

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts has released information about Tennessee personal injury and Tennessee wrongful death cases filed and tried in Dickson County, Tennessee for the year ended June 30, 2012.

Here is the data;

 

  • Total personal injury and wrongful death cases filed in court: – 52
  • Total personal injury and wrongful death cases resolved in court – 62
  • Total number of cases going to trial – 0
  • Total number of jury trials – 0
  • Total number of non-jury trials – 0
  • Total number of cases in which damages were awarded – 0 (NA%)
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded was between $1 and $99,999 – 0
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded was between $100,000 and $999,99 – 0
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded exceeded $1,000,000 – 0
  • Total damages awarded in all cases – $0
  • Average damages awarded – $0

There was not a single trial in a personal injury or wrongful death case in Dickson County, Tennessee in the year ended June 30, 2012.  Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  Dozens of Tennessee counties had no personal injury or wrongful death trials during the same period, and others had one or two trials.  Even the second largest county, Davidson, had only 69 trials (47 of them jury trials) that year.  Shelby County had only 79 (47 of them jury trials).

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts has released information about Tennessee personal injury and Tennessee wrongful death cases filed in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee for the year ended June 30, 2012.

Here is the data;

  • Total personal injury and wrongful death cases filed in court: – 1768
  • Total personal injury and wrongful death cases resolved in court – 1958
  • Total number of cases going to trial – 79
  • Total number of jury trials – 47
  • Total number of non-jury trials – 32
  • Total number of cases in which damages were awarded 50 
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded was between $1 and $99,999 – 35
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded was between $100,000 and $999,99 – 11
  • Total number of cases where damages awarded exceeded $1,000,000 – 4
  • Total damages awarded in all cases – $40,443,910
  • Average damages awarded – $808,878

These statistics show one of the great flaws of statistics.  The total damages awarded figure includes an award of $20,000,000 that was significantly remitted by the trial judge.  Thus, the average damages awarded" figure is skewed significantly.  Also note that the twenty-nine (29) cases in which the plaintiff received no damages is not included in the "average."