The post is about the settlement compensation payouts you can expect in Pennsylvania.
A recent study of jury verdicts found that the average personal injury jury verdict in Pennsylvania is $903,705.00.
Now let’s turn the kaleidoscope and look at the median. If you remember from the 9th grade, the median is found by ranking the data from biggest to smallest and then identifying the middle of the data so that there is an equal number that is larger and smaller on each side. If you had 1001 data points, the 500th biggest number would be in the middle.
For many data groups, the gap between the average and the median is the same or very close to it. With personal injury verdicts, they are usually light-years apart. This is reflected in this new study that just came out in Pennsylvania. The median compensatory award in Pennsylvania in the study was $45,000.00
Which number is more beneficial? Most personal injury outcome watchers view the median as the more useful number.
Why? Because the highest Pennsylvania verdict in the study was $85,000,000.00. This skews the data across the board. The $85 million case involved a Penn medical student who stepped into an uncovered manhole in Philadelphia. He collected, under a high-low agreement, $18,000,000.
But that $85 million remains the statistical number and skews that data. From a statistical standpoint, we see that the average can be significantly skewed by a few values that are not remotely representative of the jury verdicts. So the median generally provides a better representation of the Pennsylvania verdict data.
One other thing worth mentioning for context: this is only the plaintiffs’ verdicts where the Plaintiff received a monetary award from the jury. According to the study, this happens in 38% of personal injury cases in Pennsylvania.
I think statistics like this tell us a lot about the big picture of personal injury cases in Pennsylvania. I think it is helpful for Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers who practice over a large swath of the state.
What do these verdict statistics mean for your case? The answer is clear: absolutely nothing. There are so many — SO MANY — factors that make up the value of a personal injury case. There is no settlement calculator or formula.
Your case’s true value is disconnected from the average or median settlement or verdict statistics. Hundreds of people come to our website every single day looking for information on the settlement value of their claims. We break down jury and settlement data by venue and injury type — the two most reliable factors in predicting how much your case is worth.
But even those are just pieces of the mosaic that scratch the surface of estimating the case’s value. You can also look at sample verdicts. But you will be left with a broad range when you add all of these things up without the experience or the general understanding of how insurance companies and juries value cases.
How do you narrow that range? Only an experienced lawyer who has settled thousands of cases in that jurisdiction can get you there.
Pennslyvania Personal Injury Jury Verdicts
- February 2024 Pennsylvania Verdict: A 65-year-old pharmacy delivery person was rear-ended by a Rabbit Transit bus while she was stopped behind a school bus on Walnut Bottom Road in Cumberland in York County. The plaintiff sustained head injuries as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against Rabbit Transit, alleging that the bus driver’s negligence was the cause of her injuries. The plaintiff was initially diagnosed with a leg bruise at the emergency room, and later with a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, headaches, vestibular deficits, and vision impairment. Despite a year of physical therapy and various treatments for her headaches, the plaintiff reported that she still experiences severe headaches one to five times a month, which she manages with over-the-counter medication and rest. She claimed only $3,000 for medical expenses and $2,000 in lost earnings. But this case was about pain and suffering. The jury agreed, awarding her a $261,000 payout.
- August 2023 Pennsylvania: $5,000,000 Verdict: A former accountant slipped on a spilled bottle of olive oil in the store. He hired a lawyer to sue Walmart. His lawsuit claimed that due to injuries from the fall, which included herniated discs and a concussion, he could no longer work as an accountant. He argued that the concussion impaired his math abilities, leading to a significant loss in yearly income. The surveillance footage, used as evidence, showed the spill was on the floor for around 20 minutes before his fall and that he was walking at a regular pace when he slipped. A Delaware County jury awarded the man $5 million in compensation.
- August 2023 Pennsylvania: $7,800,000 Settlement: A construction worker suffered injuries after a 10-foot fall from a site platform. His lawsuit alleged that an unstable scaffolding railing was the reason for his plunge, which led not only to spinal injuries but also to pneumonia during his hospital stay. The general contractor claimed he was a statutory employer but agree to a $7.8 million settlement amount to resolve the claim.
- August 2023 Pennsylvania: $3,500,000 Settlement: A 30-year-old plaintiff alleged that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia disregarded previous accusations against the priest, thereby putting him and other children at risk. He claimed that he was abused by this priest in 2006, who then threatened him to keep quiet. The archdiocese initially challenged the plaintiff’s account and refused any wrongdoing. But it still made a $400,000 settlement offer. The plaintiff refused that and settled for $3.5 million on the eve of trial. This is a rare case of a public settlement. These cases almost always have confidentiality clauses. So it gives you a better look at sexual assault settlement amounts.
- June 2023 Pennsylvania: $8,000,000 Verdict: A woman in her 39th week of pregnancy was admitted to Abington Memorial Hospital after she had started labor. As she started to push, the baby’s heart rate became inconsistent. The obstetrician attempted to extract the baby using vacuum extraction, which failed, leading to an immediate cesarean section. Following the procedure, the obstetrician closed the incision after an hour and a half but failed to conduct a thorough inspection of the patient despite there being a complication. There is no documentation of an inspection of the uterine artery, even though an extension of the uterine incision was recorded. Within hours, the patient’s vital signs worsened, leading to an asystolic cardiac arrest that necessitated chest compressions. Another doctor found approximately three liters of blood in her abdomen upon reopening her incisions and clamped the artery. An emergency hysterectomy was then performed. The patient suffered another cardiac arrest later. A Montgomery County jury determined the obstetrician’s negligence and awarded the couple $5.5 million for pain and suffering and $2.5 million for the loss of society, comfort, and companionship.
- January 2023 Pennsylvania: $275,000 Settlement: A 26-year-old male bicycle rider was struck and killed by a vehicle at an intersection after the driver of the vehicle was served alcoholic beverages at defendant Keelersville Club. Wrongful death action was brought against the club under the Pennsylvania Dram Shop statute. The case settled out of court for what was presumably policy limits (otherwise a wrongful death of a 26-year-old would have had a much higher value).
- January 2023 Pennsylvania: $250,000 Settlement: A wrongful death action was filed after the decedent driver turned into an intersection and was struck by an oncoming vehicle driven by the defendant. This is why average car accident settlement statistics produce blurry answers. The $250,000 settlement was probably the maximum policy limit for the defendant’s insurance. Otherwise, this would have been a very high-value case because the decent had two young children.
- December 2022 Pennsylvania: $25,000,000 Verdict: A 73-year-old former pipefitter alleged that he developed asbestosis from exposure to asbestos while working at several companies in the 1970s. He brought a premises liability case against the companies for failure to provide a safe work environment. A jury in Philadelphia awarded $25 million. This is a very big asbestos verdict for a case involving asbestosis, a non-life-threatening condition related to asbestos exposure.
- November 2022 Pennsylvania: $105,000 Verdict: The plaintiff was a passenger on a bus operated by the defendant Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). She claimed she stepped around a stroller obstructing the aisle and the driver slammed on the brakes, causing her to be thrown toward the front of the bus. Injuries were not specified (which usually means soft tissue).
- July 2022 Pennsylvania: $1,278,212 Verdict: The plaintiff reportedly suffered multiple fractured teeth and a right ankle injury, requiring multiple surgeries, when he tripped and fell down exterior steps at a restaurant operated by defendant White Dog Cafe. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to properly inspect the premises, failing to warn of defects with the steps, and failing to comply with building codes. The jury in Philadelphia awarded a very large verdict for a slip and fall case.
- 2021, Pennsylvania: $3.1 Million Verdict. A man driving a dump truck crashes when the truck’s KTUSA-manufactured tires peeled apart. He suffers neurological injuries. KTUSA’s lawyers blamed the man’s company for overusing the wheels. After a two-week trial in October 2021, a jury disagreed and awarded $3.1 million, including $1.8 million in pain and suffering.
- 2020, Pennsylvania: $120,000 Verdict. This premise liability case involved a woman who slipped and fell on ice on the sidewalk of a commercial property. The ice was hidden in the cracks and depression of an uneven and broken sidewalk. She suffered severe head, neck, and lower extremity injuries. The woman sued the property’s owner for failing to maintain the sidewalk and failing to adequately design it. A Philadelphia jury awarded $125,000 in damages.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $2,500,000 Verdict. A 75-year-old man died from an anoxic brain injury caused by a spinal cord injury and subarachnoid hemorrhage. This occurred two weeks after his wheelchair fell down concrete stairs. Before the fall, he had his pupils dilated, which impacted his vision. He initially arrived at the emergency department complaining of pain and tearing to his eyes. The hospital staff diagnosed him with a right cornea abrasion and dilated his eyes. They also administered antibiotic treatment and discharged him home. His estate hired a spinal cord injury lawyer who filed a lawsuit that alleged that his eyes did not fully recover from dilation at discharge. The hospital denied negligence, claiming that the eye examination did not cause his subsequent fall. A Philadelphia jury awarded the estate $2,500,000.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $50,000 Verdict. A man was a business invitee to a Philadelphia-based wholesale food service supplier. He slipped and fell on water while walking around the produce area. The man sustained multiple disc bulges as a result. He sued the business for failing to keep the floors dry and failing to properly inspect the premises. The supplier denied liability, claiming that the man’s actions alone caused his injuries. A Philadelphia jury apportioned 55.6 percent liability to the business and 44.4 percent liability to the man. They determined the damages amounted to $50,000, while the recovery was $27,800.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $200,000 Verdict. A man suffered undisclosed injuries after his vehicle was rear-ended at a red light. The other driver was on his cell phone at the time of the accident. He sued the other driver for driving too fast, failing to yield right-of-way, and driving distracted. He also sued his UIM insurer, Geico, for refusing to pay UIM benefits. The Montgomery County jury awarded $200,000.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $2,780,000 Verdict. A sheet metal mechanic helped install a baseball park’s stainless steel exhaust duct system. Another subcontractor employee operated a motorized pallet jack and backed into his right heel. He was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and chronic pain. The man underwent a planar fasciotomy and tarsal tunnel release within eight months. He continued to experience sharp foot pain that was treated with cortisone injections. The man testified that he could no longer work as a sheet metal mechanic. He was out of work for two years but returned to full-time work with restrictions. The subcontractor contested the injuries, claiming that his pain complaints were subjective. They also claimed that his diagnostic films showed no fractures or tears. The Dauphin County jury awarded the man $2,780,000.
Pennsylvania Personal Injury Law
Let’s look at some of the most important elements of Pennsylvania’s personal injury law including how long a prospective plaintiff can wait before filing a lawsuit, caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded, and how shared fault cases are resolved.
Pennsylvania Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for personal injury claim in Pennsylvania is generally two years from the date of the injury or accident. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(2) This means that if you are injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, you generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.
There are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. For example, if the injury was not immediately apparent or was the result of exposure to a toxic substance, the statute of limitations may be extended. In cases involving minors, the statute of limitations may be extended until the minor reaches the age of 18.
Do yourself a favor: if you have a possible claim, don’t wait until the statute of limitations gets close to expiring before calling a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer. First, there are so many statute of limitations exceptions that it sometimes swallows the rule.
But just as importantly, pursuing a personal injury claim can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful planning, investigation, and legal strategy. By waiting until the last minute, most personal injury lawyers won’t take your case even if it has great promise.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania are not covered by a separate statute of limitations period. All Pennsylvania malpractice cases are governed by the general 2-year statute of limitations that applies to other personal injury cases, including Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuits. This means that victims of medical negligence have 2-years from the date that they discover or should have discovered that they had a potential medical malpractice claim.
7-Year Statute of Repose for Pennsylvania Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania are subject to a 7-year statute of repose deadline on top of the normal 2-year statute of limitations. The statute of repose sets an absolute maximum limit for how long a plaintiff has to file a claim. The statute of repose time limit is not based on when the plaintiff “discovery” or “should have discovered” that they were the victim of malpractice. Instead, the seven years runs from the date that the plaintiff’s injury occurs. This can be considerably sooner than the date of discovery, especially in malpractice cases involving failure to diagnose.
Pennsylvania Birth Injury Lawsuits
In birth injury lawsuits, which our lawyers are very focused on, a legal claim must commence within seven years of the incident. For injuries to children, if the child turns 20 years old before those seven years are up, they have until their 20th birthday to file the lawsuit, whichever date comes later.
No Cap on Damages in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there is no cap on damages in personal injury cases. This means that plaintiffs can potentially recover an unlimited amount of damages for their losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.
It’s important to note, however, that Pennsylvania does have a cap on punitive damages. Punitive damages are a type of damages that are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior, such as intentional or reckless conduct. In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are limited to 200% of the compensatory damages awarded, or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Also, in lawsuits against the state government, a cap of $250,000 per claimant and $1 million in total claims from a single incident might apply.
Pennsylvania does not require actual malice for punitive damages. So you see punitive damages come into play in car accident, medical malpractice, and product liability claims in Pennsylvania. We have a birth injury case in southern Pennsylvania now where punitive damages are in play but would not be in most other jurisdictions.
Pennsylvania Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
Pennsylvania follows a modified version of the comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases involving shared fault. Comparative negligence is a defense that reduces the damages a plaintiff can recover if the plaintiff’s own negligent acts partly contributed to the injury. This requires juries to allocate fault between plaintiffs and defendants, e.g., the plaintiff was 10% at fault and the defendant was 90% at fault.
Under Pennsylvania law, if a plaintiff is more than 50% at fault they are not entitled to recover any damages. So if a jury determines that a plaintiff was 60% responsible and the defendant was 40% responsible for an injury the plaintiff loses the case. When the plaintiff’s share of fault is less than 50% they are entitled to damages but the amount of damages will be reduced in based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
Reckless conduct changes the analysis. In cases where the victim was careless and the defendant was reckless, the rules of the Comparative Negligence Act will likely not apply.
The Fair Share Act
The Pennsylvania Fair Share governs how damages are allocated among multiple defendants in civil lawsuits, particularly in tort cases such as personal injury and property damage. Before the Act’s amendment, Pennsylvania followed a “joint and several liability” rule, where any defendant found liable could be responsible for paying the entire amount of the damages awarded, regardless of their individual share of fault. This rule often led to defendants with minimal responsibility for an incident being held liable for a disproportionate share of the damages if they were more able to pay than other parties involved.
The Fair Share Act makes each defendant is generally responsible for paying only their proportionate share of the total damages based on their percentage of fault. This means that if a defendant is found to be 10% at fault for an incident, they would be responsible for paying 10% of the total damages awarded.
There are exceptions to this rule. A defendant can be held jointly and severally liable (meaning they could be required to pay the entire amount of the damages) if they are found to be more than 60% responsible for the harm caused. This exception was designed to ensure that plaintiffs could still be fully compensated for their losses when a single defendant is primarily at fault for the damages.
It also appears that, based on this case, that the Act only applies when the plaintiff is also accused of being at fault or contributing to their own negligence. This is extremely important in many cases, most notably asbestos lawsuits.
Pennsylvania Collateral Source Rule
Pennsylvania does not allow medical malpractice plaintiffs to recover damages for medical expenses or lost wages if those expenses were covered by insurance or other benefits. So if a plaintiff incurs medical expenses of $100,000 and his health insurance covers $90,000 then he can only recover damages for the $10,000 that was not covered.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Rules
Pennsylvania has adopted a number of special procedural and substantive rules that are applicable specifically to injury cases involving medical malpractice claims against licensed healthcare providers.
Certificate of Merit Requirement
A certificate of merit must support all medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania. Pa. R.C.P. No. 1042.3. The certificate of merit must confirm that a “qualified expert” has reviewed the facts and allegations in the case and provided a written opinion that the defendant’s conduct did not meet the accepted medical standard of care.
This is essentially an opinion from one doctor stating that the defendants were negligent. The certificate of merit must be submitted within 60 days of the lawsuit being filed or the case will be automatically dismissed. The obvious purpose of this requirement is to filter out potentially frivolous or excessive malpractice lawsuits.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death
For cases involving medical professional liability that result in wrongful death or survival actions, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the deceased’s passing. There is also a statute of repose of seven years.
In Pennsylvania, medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to special choice of venue limitations. Medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania can only be filed in the County where the alleged malpractice occurred. Pa. R.C.P. No. 1006.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court established the principle that a hospital, as a corporation, can be directly held responsible for negligence. This concept, which is huge weapon for medical negligence lawyers in Pennsylvania, is known as corporate negligence.
This rule says that a hospital has a direct obligation towards its patients to ensure their safety and welfare during their stay. Specifically, the court outlined four primary duties of a hospital:
- to maintain safe and adequate facilities and equipment,
- to hire competent medical staff,
- to monitor all medical practice within its premises,
- and to implement effective rules and policies for patient care.
Unlike other forms of negligence that require the identification of a negligent third party like a doctor or nurse, corporate negligence focuses on the hospital’s own failures in policies, actions, or lack thereof. This means a hospital can be held directly accountable for its negligence, not just indirectly through the actions of its staff.
Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Lawsuits
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff must establish that the defendant (usually the property owner or occupier) owed them a duty of care. This duty varies depending on the status of the plaintiff as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. In Pennsylvania law, the duty a defendant (typically a business owner) owes to a plaintiff (such as an invitee) varies based on their relationship. A business owner is required to warn invitees of hazardous conditions of which they have either actual or constructive knowledge. We will talk more about that in a moment.
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty of care. This breach could be a failure to maintain the property safely, not repairing known hazards, or not warning about potential dangers.
- Causation: The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused their slip and fall accident. This means showing a direct link between the hazard on the property and the injury sustained.
- Actual Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered actual damages as a result of the fall. This can include physical injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Notice: In many cases, the plaintiff must show that the property owner/manager knew or should have known about the dangerous condition but failed to take appropriate action to rectify it. This aspect often hinges on the concept of ‘reasonable care’—whether the property owner acted as a reasonably careful person would under similar circumstances. Actual notice involves direct knowledge of the hazard, while constructive notice is inferred when the owner should have known about the condition. This can be determined by factors such as the premises’ size and condition, the business’s nature, the defect’s nature and location, and the opportunity the defendant had to remedy it. However, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. We have to prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard. Particularly critical is establishing how long the hazardous condition existed before the accident. If a condition was present only briefly, it may be argued that even with reasonable care, the landowner couldn’t have discovered and addressed the hazard. Therefore, a plaintiff’s inability to show the duration of the dangerous condition’s existence can be a decisive factor in a slip and fall lawsuit.
Hiring a Pennsylvania Malpractice Lawyer
Our firm manages significant injury and wrongful death cases in Pennsylvania and across the nation. What can you expect when you engage us? We collaborate with and compensate our Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys from our legal fees. We are picking the best malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania to work with on your case. But there is no added cost for having the expertise of two legal teams rather than one. Plus, and this is important, you are only responsible for a fee if there’s a successful settlement or a jury awards you compensation.
For a complimentary, no-commitment consultation, connect with us online or ring us at 800-553-8082.