Neat Factoids About Personal Injury Cases

by JRO on November 20, 2013

  • SumoMe

There were approximately 27,000 personal injury cases filed in state courts and another 99,000 in federal courts in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Also known as “tort” cases, personal injury cases are often pointed to as an example of the overly litigious nature of society and the subject of legal reform efforts. Interestingly enough, of all of the federal tort claims filed across the country, no more than 2 percent of such cases actually saw the inside of a court room.

A look at personal injury cases filed on a state and federal level shows some interesting data in terms of the number of cases over the years, the amount of time such cases are handled, and the average amount (if any) awarded the plaintiff. This discussion will focus on these three facts as they relate to tort cases, to give a perspective on the actual number of cases handled by the legal system.

Number and Types of Personal Injury Cases

BJS numbers show that, of the cases brought forth in state courts in 2005, tort cases are 90 percent more likely to go to a jury trial. More than half of those cases (54 percent) were on the behalf of the plaintiff. Federal cases involving tort claims were 1,647 of the 98,786 that were brought to a close (1.7 percent). The majority of these cases involved product liability claims (which fall under federal jurisdiction).

The number of tort cases concluded in 2005 is more than half the number of the peak amount of 3,600 personal injury cases in 1985. Of the personal injury cases filed on the federal level, 20 percent were motor vehicle claims, 13 percent were product liability, and 10 percent were medical malpractice cases. Of the 1,647 federal cases decided, 329 were motor vehicle cases, 214 were product liability cases, and 165 were medical malpractice suits. In terms of cases that settled on behalf of the plaintiff, 57 percent of plaintiffs prevailed in motor vehicle tort cases (188); 37 percent of plaintiffs prevailed in medical malpractice cases (61); and 34 percent of plaintiffs prevailed in product liability cases (73).

The Life of a Personal Injury Case

The time it takes to dispose of a personal injury case depends on the type of tort action as well as the jurisdiction in which the case has been brought. Many states have statutes of limitations in place for litigants looking to bring action against a company, government body, or individual for liability in a personal injury suit. Depending on the nature of the tort action, many of these cases may achieve class-action status, making their timeline for resolution longer than individual actions.

Typical Settlement Amounts for Personal Injury Cases

Despite the publicity of large million-dollar tort settlements, the number of awards reaching that amount in either state or federal court is very low. In 2005, of the 10,012 plaintiffs who won their claims via a jury trial, 1,159 (11.6 percent) received an award in excess of $1 million. That number was even lower for cases decided by a judge. Only 2.3 percent of plaintiffs, or 137 of 5,809, received an award from a judge in a bench trial of $1 million or more. Federal tort cases resulting in the highest median awards won $600,000 for medical malpractice cases and $350,000 for product liability cases.


Damian Robins is a freelance legal blogger and writer who concentrates on legal history, criminal justice, prison reform, criminal defense, DUIs, bail bonds and other legal topics. Those interested in learning more about bail bonds should check out these resources on Pearland bail bonds.

  • lauralouise90

    Wow that is a lot of cases in a short amount of time. To me it just shows that people are refusing to suffer in silence and that they want the justice they deserve- why shouldn’t they! Laura @ Hartlepool Injury Lawyers

Previous post:

Next post: