Fender-benders and Memory Lane
Remember the Golden Era of personal injury law, when the whiskey was strong, the women were wild, and anybody who didn't get at least five times specials in a rear-ender with no property damage risked investigation by Disciplinary Counsel? And then we got a little too greedy until the public said enough, and now you're happy if the insurance company offers you more than $2,300 when your client's got $1,700 in meds.
Of if they offer you anything at all. The other day, I realized that I hadn't run into a "zero damage" case in a while. You know, the ones where the defendant admits liability, and the jury comes back with a plaintiff's verdict but awards no damages. I wrote a post a short while back about three of them that were handed down in just one week in December, and another one earlier last year taking stock of the case law on that issue. But, as I said, I haven't seen any in about three months now. It could be that juries are becoming more magnanimous, or it could be that plaintiffs' counsel just doesn't bother appealing anymore when that happens. Gee, I wonder which one it is.
The one bright spot is provided by the 8th District's decisions in prejudgment interest cases; most of them have gone in favor of plaintiffs, as I detailed here, and in one mentioned in the post I cited above, in which the court affirmed $32,000 in prejudgment interest where the insurance company had offered $6,300 (in response to meds of $8,100, and a demand of $20,000), only to see the jury trudge back into the courtroom and award the plaintiff $115,000. I went back and checked to see which insurance company had been involved in those cases, and while I won't mention any names, it seems likely that very few members of the 8th District bench are in good hands.