A recent Nashua Telegraph article suggests the venue in which the suit is tried plays a pivotal role in its outcome in New Hampshire. According to the newspaper’s data, not only is New Hampshire a more conservative state compared to the national average but the degree of a jury’s defense-friendliness fluctuates wildly from county to county.
The Telegraph compiled data from four major courts in the state: Merrimack County, Rockingham County, and Hillsborough County (dividing Hillsborough into Nashua and Manchester). They discovered that while juries found in favor of plaintiffs in 53 percent of the cases filed in the states; most populous counties, only 41 percent of cases tried in Nashua and 44 percent in Manchester resulted in successful plaintiffs. Merrimack County and Rockingham County tended more towards the national average, weighing in at 52 percent and 49 percent respectively.
The difference between Nashua and the national average is even more striking when it comes to medical malpractice cases. According to a New Hampshire Bureau of Justice study, 26 percent of medical malpractice cases find in favor of the Plaintiff. But only 13 percent of the medical malpractice cases filed in Nashua end favorably for the plaintiff. Actually, favorably is misleading: the average jury verdict was $7,000 in the three cases in which the plaintiff prevail. In a medical malpractice case, the real scorecard shows this as a loss. These verdicts will cover about 1/10 of the expenses incurred by the New Hampshire medical malpractice lawyer that tried the case.
New Hampshire Jury Payout Statistics
The study also showed that New Hampshire juries are conservative when they do decide in favor of the Plaintiff. Although awards reach at least $1 million dollars in 8 percent of jury awards nationally, Nashua has seen just one verdict over $1 million, and none of the other New Hampshire counties in the study come close to the 8 percent marker. One-fifth of the awards in Nashua are for $5,000 or less, and less than 30 percent ever exceed $50,000.
According to the data, New Hampshire, and Nashua in particular, seem to be somewhat anti-Plaintiff, but it is important to look at the data carefully. In some cases, the Telegraph calculated the average jury award in the New Hampshire courts but only reported on the national median for similar cases, making it a little more difficult to make an accurate comparison. Also, as noted by the Telegraph, not all cases are characterized the same, again making comparison tricky. For example, some courts characterize “slip and fall” accidents as separate cases while others lump them in under the broader “personal injury” category. Ultimately, some venues have a certain personality when it comes to favoring defendants over plaintiffs and vice versa, but the picture is not quite as clear as these numbers would suggest.
Overall, according to a study conducted last year by a company called Jury Verdict Research, the median compensatory award in personal injury cases that go to trial in New Hampshire trials in New Hampshire is $45,000 and plaintiffs received a financial recovery in 63% of these personal injury cases. This compares very favorably to the national median verdict is $38,461 and the nationwide plaintiff recovery rate of 55%.
New Hampshire Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements
- 2022, New Hampshire $850,000 Verdict. The plaintiff was a student-athlete at Dartmouth College. She claimed that she suffered a ruptured disc at L5-S1, resulting in bladder and bowel problems, after she was instructed by an athletic trainer to perform a trap bar deadlift with an excessive amount of weight. The lawsuit contended that the college was legally responsible for her injury because the trainer failed to reasonably warn and instruct and failed to reasonably supervise her during the lift.
- 2021, New Hampshire $55,000 Settlement: The plaintiff was working on board an offshore fishing vessel, allegedly suffered lumbar herniations and sprain/strains and an aggravation of pre-existing spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 when he was holding a heavy lobster pot and a wave struck the boat, owned by the defendant causing the torquing and twisting of his back and body. At trial, the jury awarded $650,000 in damages but found that the plaintiff was 93% at fault for the accident, so the parties agreed to a stipulated settlement of $55,000.
- 2020, New Hampshire: $5,000 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended by a box truck on I-293. She injured her neck, back, and arm. The woman alleged negligence against the box truck driver. She claimed he failed to maintain an appropriate lookout and timely brake. The Hillsborough County jury awarded $5,000.
- 2018, New Hampshire: $41,000 Verdict. A man was rear-ended. He tore his right rotator cuff. The man also sustained headaches, dizziness, nausea, and blurry vision. He underwent a rotator cuff repair. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He also made a UIM claim against State Farm. The Merrimack County jury awarded $41,000.
- 2017, New Hampshire: $21,000 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended. She suffered whiplash. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she excessively sped and failed to timely brake. The Rockingham County jury awarded $21,000.
- 2017, New Hampshire: $17,000 Verdict. A female passenger was rear-ended. She suffered whiplash and the aggravation of other pre-existing neck injuries. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she failed to main an appropriate lookout, completely stop, and avoid the collision. The Hillsborough County jury awarded $17,000.
- 2017, New Hampshire: $250,000 Verdict. A limousine passenger was rear-ended. He injured his right extremities, left thumb, and neck. The man also suffered the aggravation of his pre-existing lower back, right hand, right wrist, and left thumb injuries. He sustained limited mobility. The man alleged negligence against his limousine driver. He claimed he failed to gradually brake. The Hillsborough County jury awarded $250,000.
- 2016, New Hampshire: $4,679,142 Verdict. A woman suffered from macular degeneration. She underwent four left injections and two laser surgeries. Following the procedures, she suffered left eye vision loss and developed glaucoma. The woman underwent an unsuccessful glaucoma procedure. She developed right eye vision loss. She alleged negligence against the ophthalmologist. She claimed he improperly treated her condition and performed unnecessary procedures. The Rockingham County jury awarded the woman $4,679,142.
- 2015, New Hampshire: $1,500,000 Verdict. A woman suffered subglottic stenosis. She underwent a YAG laser-assisted endoscopic procedure. The woman suffered multiple injuries, including tracheal damage, respiratory distress, and a pneumothorax. She underwent an emergency procedure, intubation, and a tracheostomy. The woman alleged negligence against the otolaryngologist. She claimed he failed to receive her informed consent, use proper surgical equipment, and exercise due care. The Grafton County jury awarded $1,500,000.