09.25.09

California $49 Million Personal Injury Award and Need for Reforms

Posted in Tort Reform at 6:15 pm by kevin

On Monday, this week, a Santa Clara, California jury awarded $49 million in a single personal injury case. The short version of the case is that two trucks collided and one struck the Toyota Avalon that college student Drew Bianchi, 21-years-old was riding in. The result of the accident was traumatic brain injury to Bianchi.

The Northern California jury awarded $27.6 million in future medical expenses, $3.4 million in past medical expenses, $4.5 million in future lost wages and $13.5 million in general damages. The Santa Clara jury pool is generally thought to be conservative compared to other San Francisco area juries. This was the largest verdict in 10 years in Santa Clara County.

The sheer size of this award for a single person in an automobile accident will cause some people to become very vocal about two kinds of reform including lawsuit reform and healthcare reform.

Those who argue for lawsuit reform say that personal injury lawsuits should not be out of line with similar cases and should not unduly punish those who make mistakes. The costs of these large lawsuits is one cause that makes auto insurance rates to go up.

Those in favor of healthcare reform say that if healthcare costs were not so high right now, then juries would not feel compelled to award as much money for future healthcare costs in personal injury cases.

No matter which side of the arguments you are on, one thing is certain which is there is a causal relationship between large lawsuit awards and both the cost of auto insurance and health insurance. And those costs are spread out among those who did not receive the large awards from the juries.