Category: Legal Articles

 
 

PERSONAL INJURY LITIGATION SERIES

 

Wasson & Associates, Inc. is pleased to provide this survey of Southern California jury verdicts. In preparing this survey we have reviewed a sampling of jury verdicts from a number of sources throughout the various jurisdictions in Southern California. The purpose of this survey is provide our clients with a brief description of jury verdicts rendered in personal injury cases in Southern California in order to assist our clients in their overall evaluation of personal injury claims.

Though this initial survey is modest in breath and scope we anticipate the number of verdicts reported and the frequency of its distribution will increase over time. This survey consists of a sampling of California jury verdicts we believe reflect the general trends throughout the various Southern California judicial districts. Though we believe that the verdicts themselves are helpful and often interesting, we provide our commentary and comments from experts and consultants to provide our clients with a better understanding of how juries tend to view and value personal injury cases. We believe that it is important for the resolution of any claim the parties (claimants and adjustors) involved have a clear understanding of the value of the claim. If both parties agree on the value of the claim, the claim can usually be resolved easily. But more often than not, the parties develop widely different values of these types of claims. We believe that the party with the more accurate value of the claim will be in a better position to handle the claim and less likely to be forced to make drastic changes in settlement position once litigation is initiated. Therefore, at the outset of any claim it is important to have some basis for determining the value of the case.
The “ultimate value” of any case is determined by the jury. As a result, the pre-litigation evaluation of any claim begins with an initial assessment (prediction) of the ultimate value of the case. Each side often determines the “value” of a case using different criteria, methodologies and in some cases widely different interpretations of the same facts. In developing our own criteria for evaluating cases we set forth the criteria and methodologies uses. Though this survey is not a predictor of the value of any particular case, it provides our clients with information pertaining to the overall trends in personal injury jury verdicts so that they are better able to assess the value of any particular case.
This survey does not include all of the jury verdicts rendered in California but rather comprises a sampling of verdicts throughout California from several different sources we believe represents the trends in these jurisdictions. We also provide our comments based upon the information provided and where appropriate we have sought additional information concerning particular jury verdicts. To further assist our clients we include comments, opinions and observations from experts, jury consultants and others. For example, Harry Plotkin is a California jury consultant and has contributed to this survey as a source as well as a commentator. Mr. Plotkin has experience advising clients in a wide variety of cases, including personal injury claims. As a result, we believe his insight into the results of particular cases and overall trends is very valuable.
Obviously we are able to provide much more information concerning jury verdicts involving cases handled by our firm. Where the information is provided by experts involved in the particular reported case or otherwise from first-hand knowledge of important parts of the case, we will identify the expert, but in order to keep this survey brief, we have refrained from elaborating on the particular role the expert played in the case. This information is available upon request.
In order to provide our clients with a better understanding of the implications of any particular jury verdict, we have divided our investigation into two large jurisdictions, Northern and Southern California. The Northern jurisdiction comprises both Northern and Eastern judicial districts. The Southern jurisdiction includes both Central and Southern judicial districts. We believe that there are significant differences in the judicial districts within these jurisdictions to merit separate analysis. In addition, we have further divided the verdicts by individual judicial district. This subdivision is more prominently reflected in judicial districts of Southern than in Northern California.
For purposes of this survey, Northern California consists of the judicial districts within the following counties: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Eureka, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Oakland, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba.
Southern California consists of the judicial districts within the following counties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Diego. As a general rule the judicial districts in Ventura County tend to be more conservative. Though Los Angeles County comprises a large number of individual judicial districts and the individual districts are often very distinct, Los Angeles tends to be a more liberal jurisdiction. Orange County tends to be very a conservative jurisdiction.
A short profile of the general demographics of the Southern California judicial districts is set forth below. Jury pools are largely taken from voter registration information. Consequently, the information provided focuses on the most recent data pertaining to the voter registration in the area.
The determination of the value of any claim is an art not a science and this survey of California jury verdicts provides our clients with general information often unique to each judicial district. Nevertheless, we hope that this information and our comments provide some guidance in their overall effort to evaluate these types of claims.
Wasson & Associates, Inc. will provide these surveys periodically as the information becomes available. We will provide more information concerning any particular verdicts reported upon request. The California Jury Verdict Survey for this period is attached herein below.