The Virginia Verdict Review

Comprehensive and Informative Commentary on State and Federal Legal Matters

Show Me The Money: Personal Injury takes the lead in million dollar verdicts, but money often hard to collect

Attorneys at Westlake Legal take pride in their ability to advocate for clients, and are currently eligible for membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum with more than four judgments in excess of $1 million dollars (one for $1.125 million, one for $2 million, one for $3.5 million, and one for $15 million).  However, although Westlake Legal has had success in collecting verdict awards for its clients, recent research highlights that this is not always the case.

In this week’s edition of Virginia Lawyers Weekly, author Paul Fletcher tips his hat to two Richmond lawyers for winning the largest jury award since 1986.  Discussion of the case, in which the jury originally awarded $212 million to a Vietnam vet who suffered brain damage as a result of a botched Botox injection, brings to light a number of important facets of high-payoff personal injury (“PI”) cases such as this.

For starters, it is noted that “PI [cases] lead the way” when it comes to multi-million dollar jury awards.  Of the top 25 Verdicts of the last 25 years, as ranked by Virginia Lawyers Weekly, ten involved a personal injury component.  That is a staggering 40%.  Put in terms of the men and women that fight for these million dollar verdicts, only 4,000 lawyers nation-wide claim membership in the “Million Dollar Advocates” Forum, and fewer have claimed membership in the “Multi-Million Dollar Advocates” Forum, organizations comprised primarily of personal injury and or/wrongful death lawyers who have won verdicts in excess of $1 million.  Considering the shear magnitude of attorneys out there and the even greater number of trials that take place each year, both of these statistics are pretty outstanding.

However, while large verdicts  dominate the news on million dollar verdicts, the statistics can often be misleading.  Put more bluntly, there is a BIG difference between what the jury awards and what the plaintiff receives in terms of cold, hard cash.  Take, for example, the previously mentioned list of top 25 verdicts in Virginia.  In six of these cases (more than 20%), the plaintiff ended up empty-handed because of an appeal.  In another 11 cases, the case was either settled for less in lieu of an appeal, or the judge granted a post-trial motion that drastically reduced the amount awarded by the verdict (in some cases by more than a factor of 10).  When you count the additional five cases that made the list but are still out on appeal, you end up with 23 out of the original 25 cases that either resulted in or have the potential to result in a actual payout that is substantially less than the original verdict awarded.

To further illustrate, the $212 million dollar verdict referenced above was reduced to $12.5 million dollars.  Of course, in order to have such a reduction, you need to get the big verdict in the first place.  Westlake Legal is available for your inquiries.

Disclaimer:  Virginia Verdict Review is not an advertisement, it is a blog.  The views and opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of attorney Thomas K. Plofchan, Jr. or the author of any individual post, should guest authors be used.  The purpose of these articles is to inform the public regarding various issues involving the criminal justice system.  Information posted on this blog should not be construed as legal advice or to suggest that a similar outcome can be guaranteed in any other case.


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