There are a lot of websites that speak of some magic formula for what an insurance company will pay you after you’ve been in an auto collision that was the fault of the other driver. It seems to be a function of your medical bills and physical injuries, emotional trauma, lost wages (and thus, your salary), loss of property, etc.  But there is no consensus on what the formula actually is – it’s a highly guarded secret of the insurance companies!

There are a lot of data available on the claim and award amounts determined by cases that have gone to court and were decided by juries. Unfortunately, these data are expensive (you need a LexisNexis or Westlaw account). Here, I’ve used data from a free source – a law firm that collects data on jury verdicts in the Portland, OR, area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties). The data include over 20 years of verdicts on auto collision cases. I’ve taken a subset of the database, which includes only cases where the initial claim amount was less than or equal to $1M; this includes 1,749 cases.

The resulting scatter plot shows, not surprisingly, that juries usually award less than the claim amount. I’ve plotted the medians of the award amounts for all cases, and for only those cases where the jury sided with the plaintiff (where the award amount was greater than $0). These medians were calculated for cases in claim amount bins of $50k (e.g., the first set of medians includes all cases where the claim amount was less than or equal to $50k; the next set of medians is for cases where the claim amount was between $50k and $100k). As a percentage of the claim amount, the median awards are typically quite low – they are usually between 10-20%.

Data source:

Posted on 18 September, 2013

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