Nuclear Verdicts Surge in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases: A Decade in Review (Institute for Legal Reform)

Nuclear Verdicts Surge in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases: A Decade in Review

Monday, June 10th, 2024 Legislation & Regulation Litigation Property Risk Management

A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform reveals a significant increase in nuclear verdicts—jury awards of $10 million or more—in personal injury and wrongful death cases from 2013 to 2022. Analyzing 1,288 nuclear verdicts, the study finds a notable rise in both frequency and size of these awards, especially in states like California, Florida, New York, and Texas. While the pandemic caused a temporary dip, nuclear verdicts quickly rebounded, with a record number of "mega" verdicts—$100 million or more—in 2022 and 2023.

Key factors driving these outsized awards include aggressive litigation tactics by plaintiffs’ lawyers, the impact of third-party litigation funding, and the strategic use of emotional appeals to jurors. Notably, economic damages constitute only a small portion of these awards, with noneconomic damages like pain and suffering making up the majority. The study also highlights the concentration of nuclear verdicts in state courts, with particular emphasis on product liability, auto accidents, and medical liability cases.

The real-world implications are profound, affecting business viability, insurance costs, and consumer prices. To mitigate these impacts, the study advocates for legislative reforms, such as limiting noneconomic damages, enhancing transparency in third-party litigation funding, and restricting manipulative trial tactics. These measures aim to restore fairness and predictability in the civil justice system.


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External References & Further Reading
https://instituteforlegalreform.com/research/nuclear-verdicts-an-update-on-trends-causes-and-solutions/

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