National statistics on personal injury cases | Allen and Allen

National statistics on personal injury cases

“Will my case settle?” While the answer to this common question depends on the facts of each individual case, a general survey of national trends on personal injuries and personal injury cases can provide insight into what you may expect down the line.

medical malpractice

What is a personal injury case?

Personal injury cases make up a large portion of civil lawsuits filed in the United States. These cases can arise from a variety of circumstances such as:

  • Car crashes
  • Defective products
  • Dog bites
  • Medical malpractice

All personal injury cases, however, have one common thread: they involve an injury or damage to someone or something that was caused by the wrongful or negligent actions of another.

Personal injury statistics:

In 2020, unintentional injuries or accidents were the 4th leading cause of death in this country and the leading cause of death for Americans aged 1-44 years old. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 200,955 individuals died from unintentional injuries in 2019, representing 6% of all deaths in the United States.

car accident crashed into a tree

What’s the most common cause of accidental injuries?

The most common “unintentional injuries” include:

  • Unintentional poisoning (e.g., drug overdoses)
  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Falls

Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that an estimated 38,680 people died in car-related accidents in 2020. This is a 7.2% increase from 2019, despite the impact on travel by COVID-19. More importantly, this represents the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007.

The good news is that the vast majority of unintentional injuries are nonfatal, especially when victims receive appropriate medical care. The Ambulatory and Hospital Care Statistics Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that there were 35 million emergency room visits for injuries in 2018. In that same year, there were 24.8 million physician office visits for unintentional injuries.

Overall, these statistics show that the number of accidental injuries in the United States continues to rise. With the increased cost of health care, expenses associated with these injuries can have a major impact on the financial stability of individuals and families. Furthermore, liability disputes and/or unreasonable settlement offers may require some form of litigation to reach a resolution.  

injured man in wheelchair

Personal injury case statistics:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “there were an estimated 26,950 tort, contract, and real property trials in state courts of general jurisdiction nationwide” in 2005.  However, the most common method of resolution for personal injury cases is an agreed settlement (73%).

Since most tort cases resolve without going to trial, exact data for this category of cases is difficult to obtain. The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2005 Civil Justice Survey of State Courts (CJSSC) estimates that nearly 60% of tort trials were automobile accident cases, 15% involved medical malpractice claims, and just under 5% involved products liability.

For the cases that make it to trial, data from the two most recent BJS civil trial surveys reveals the following:

  • Close to 8% of medical malpractice cases were resolved through bench or jury trials, compared to 3% of car crash tort cases.
  • Between 1996 to 2005, a little over half of all plaintiffs prevailed in tort trials. The percentage of plaintiffs prevailing in automobile accident cases increased from 58% (1996) to 61% (2005).
  • In 2005, about half of all tort cases took approximately 23 months to resolve from initial filing to verdict. Intentional tort cases took slightly longer to resolve (25 months).

Regarding award amounts, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that the median jury award for plaintiffs was $30,500, while the median award for bench trials was $24,000.

These findings demonstrate two main things. First, cases that are tried to verdict do not necessarily result in higher awards; and second, the litigation process for personal injury cases is incredibly lengthy.

Personal injury representation:

Emily SmithThe harsh reality of personal injury claims is that the process can be confusing and difficult to navigate for those unfamiliar with it. Like an insurance claim, the law has many complexities and nuances that an untrained person simply won’t know about.

In most instances, an experienced personal injury attorney is your best bet for getting the maximum value for your claim. Moreover, we can guide you through the process, protect your interests, and if necessary, file a lawsuit to get you the compensation you deserve.

If you have any questions about your case, schedule a free consultation at (540) 786-8875. For those who want to take a chance and handle their own personal injury claim, be sure to avoid these common mistakes made by unrepresented claimants.


Source: United States, Congress, Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Thomas H. Cohen. Tort Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005, NCJ 228129, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009, pp. 1–21.