That's a good question. In the most recent Alabama Jury Verdict Reporter (April, 2012), there were fifteen (15) jury verdicts in the State involving car wrecks. Of those fifteen, eight (8) were defense verdicts, and two of the eight were rear-end collisions.
Of the remaining seven plaintiff verdicts, these are the following results:
When taken altogether, the average of the fifteen verdicts is $17,152.00. A further analysis shows that the $122,500.00 verdict was a case against Progressive Specialty Insurance and Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, and the plaintiff only recovered $37,500.00 of the verdict because they had previously settled with an insurance carrier, and there were set-offs due on the $122,500.00. The defendant in the $106,758 verdict died so the case was against the Estate of the deceased defendant.
With respect to the other verdicts, those are interesting too in light of the actual medical bills involved. With the $7,250.00, the medical bills aren't listed. On the $7,164.00, the medical bills were $11,628.00. On the $8,500.00, the medical bills were $47,393.00, and a settlement offer of $40,000.00 was rejected. With the $3,112.00 and $2,000.00, the medical bills are not listed.
What can we learn from these? First, to me, it is obvious that juries are not going crazy with verdicts. This pattern of verdicts has been consistent for the last 10-15 years. Second, juries are reluctant to render verdicts against individuals. Plaintiffs are not allowed to tell the jury that the defendant has auto insurance so they never know if the defendant will have to pay the money out of his/her own pocket. However, I can confidently state that MOST ATTORNEYS WILL NOT TAKE A CAR WRECK CASE TO TRIAL IF THE DEFENDANT DOES NOT HAVE INSURANCE!! Third, it makes a difference if the insurer or company or an estate is the defendant – see the $122,500.00 and $106,758.00 verdicts. Finally, clients should listen to their attorney. $40,000.00 is better than $8,500.00, and the plaintiff in that case could have been in a much better position without having to go through the stress of a trial.