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Apr 04

New York Car Accident Verdicts

The average car/truck/motorcycle accident verdict in New York is $837,020, which is stunningly high compared to most other jurisdictions.

Why is this? Are New York jurors just that much more generous than, say, jurors in Maryland?

The answer is that New York’s no-fault accident law requires that plaintiffs suffer a “serious injury” before a lawsuit can be brought against the at-fault driver. While there is some question that having a magical threshold that needs to be crossed is going to be fraught with great flaws, there is no question that this New York scheme, as desultory as the justice it might bring, keeps minor personal injury car accident cases out of court.

What’s my point? My point is that this completely distorts average car accident verdicts in New York. I read Metro Verdicts Monthly and Mealey’s which provide a lot of individual verdicts in car accident cases in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. It is amazing how many jury verdicts there are for $10,000 when, if you look at the case, is really not such a bad result. New York has none of these cases deflating their average.

One interesting thing about New York juries in accident cases drawn from the same Jury Verdict Research report that provided the average verdict data: plaintiffs only win 42 percent of the vehicular liability cases in New York. That is an astonishingly low figure that I cannot explain. Rear-end collisions accounted for 21 percent of these verdicts. Exactly how many rear end accident cases are legitimately contested? Let’s assume that all of those rear end accident cases were clear liability cases. A stretch but play along for a minute. That would mean that 27 percent of New York car accident cases that go to trial result in a defendant’s verdict. That’s incredible and I can’t explain it.

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