I attended a meeting today regarding Rock Island County Arbitration cases. The goal of the meeting was to decide what statistics the county should keep on these cases to help attorneys and arbitrators value cases.
The statistics they kept for the last year were very interesting:
- 19 – number of cases tried to a jury between June 2006 and June 2007 after rejection of arbitration award (all further statistics will refer to this group of cases).
- $7,606.04 – average arbitration award.
- $3,927.13 – average jury verdict.
- 3 – number of cases with a jury verdict of $0.
- 37% – percentage of jury verdicts that were below the amount of medical bills.
- 3 – number of verdicts greater than the arbitration award.
- 84% – percent of jury verdicts that fell below the arbitration award.
- 2 – number of verdicts over $10,000.
- 6 – number of arbitration awards over $10,000.
- 121% – average jury verdict is 121% of the medical bills.
- Howard Zimmerle – the attorney with the highest jury verdict out of these 19 (pats self on back).
So what are the conclusions to draw from this?
First, many of these cases should have been filed as small claims cases, as very few got even an arbitration award over $10,000, the small claims limit.
Second, your client will not be awarded much for pain and suffering in these types of cases.
Third, the arbitrators may overvalue a lot of these cases.
Fourth, cases with a value of between $15,000 and $50,000 (the arbitration limit), must either settle before trial or be filed as “L” cases (over $50,000).
Fifth, insurance companies who reject arbitration awards aren’t always doing it to be jerks – in 16 out of 19 cases, they did the right thing.
(Howard Zimmerle is a trial lawyer in Rock Island County, Illinois).