A new U.S. Department of Justice report shows that Plaintiffs win 56% of the time in civil trials tried in state courts in 2005. D.O.J. statistics suggest that Plaintiffs fare better when a judge decides their case with judges ruling in their favor 68% of the time while juries found for the Plaintiff only 54% of the time. The median damage award in these state cases was $28,000. Only 14% of plaintiffs won more than $250,000 and only 4% were awarded more than $1 million. Punitive damages were awarded only 5% of the time and the median punitive damages award was $64,000. Tort claims compose 61% of the cases tried in state courts and of these tort claims car accidens are the most common.
While this study indicates that Plaintiffs win more often than not, the number of cases going to trial and the amount of damages awarded have been decreasing. The D.O.J.’s report indicates that the number of civil trials decreased by 52% from 1992 to 2005 in the country’s 75 most populous counties. In these 75 counties, the median award decreased from $72,000 to $43,000 in the same time period. However, in products liability and medical malpractice cases, the median award has actually increased considerably.