Saturday, November 01, 2008

Crap Shooting In The Courts

Plaintiffs Win In Court By Small Margin

LABELLE, FL. -- A study by the U.S. Department of Justice citing results of state court cases shows that plaintiffs won over the defendants by only a fairly small margin, leaving one to wonder who really wins after taking a case to court and paying for respective attorney and court costs.

According to the new study, in 2005 plaintiffs won a bit more than half (56%) of all general civil trials concluded in state courts. The plaintiff was significantly more likely to win in a bench trial, a trial where the judge decided the outcome, compared to a jury trial.

Among all plaintiff winners the median final award was $28,000. Approximately 4% of all plaintiff winners won $1,000,000 or more. Contract cases in general had higher median awards ($35,000) than tort cases ($24,000).

The total number of civil trials declined by over 50% from 1992 to 2005 in the nation�s 75 most populous counties. Tort cases decreased the least (40%) while real property (77%) and contract (63%) cases registered the largest declines.

In the nation's 75 most populous counties, some tort case categories have seen marked increases in their median jury awards. This was particularly the case for product liability trials, where the median awards were about five times higher in 2005 than in 1992 and for medical malpractice trials, where the median jury awards more than doubled from $280,000 in 1992 to $682,000 in 2005.

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