Overview and Statistics
Facial injuries can be one of the most traumatizing things that victims experience in car accidents. The pain can be blinding and the disfigurement can permanently scar your self-esteem as well as your face. Therefore, we wanted to give you some background information on the type of recovery that plaintiffs have historically received in car accident litigation where the main injuries were to the face. It reviews the last 20 years (1994-2014) by jury award/settlement amount size and then by state frequency. Also, case summaries of significant cases are provided to give you a sense of why some plaintiffs were more successful than others.
Plaintiffs' Recovery in Car Accidents Involving Facial Injuries
State Frequency of Car Accidents Cases Involving Facial Injuries as Percentage of the National Total (Rounded to Nearest Hundredth)
Here are some major takeaways from accident cases involving knee injuries around the country:
- Unlike other categories of car accident injuries, facial injury cases had a higher-than-normal amount of awards/settlements over $5,000,000.
- The most frequent states for these awards and settlements were California, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon Texas, and Washington.
- Facial injuries are one of the most common injuries to occur in a car accident and, typically, are one of the costliest for victims to suffer in terms of medical bills, lost wages, and other ways.
- Again, settlement in these circumstances is far below the norm for litigation generally.
- For those obtaining awards or settlements, the median recovery was about $40,000 and the highest quartile was around $200,000.
Case Summaries and Highlights
Below we have listed some case summaries to give you an indication of why some plaintiffs were more successful than others in obtaining recovery:
CASE NAME: PONSOT v. ONE SOURCE METAL
STATE: NEW YORK
RECOVERY: $1,375,000 SETTLEMENT
The plaintiff in this case was a 48-year-old stage. He was waiting at a red light in Manhattan when the defendant’s car slammed into his. The rear-end collision caused him great eye and back pain. They both required extensive long-term medical care as well as many surgeries immediately following the accident. With respect to the eye damage, the plaintiff claimed that he was experiencing blurry vision and uncontrollable blinking. His experts made a strong showing of damages, contending that because of the crash his lost future wages would be in the millions of dollars and future medical bills would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe scared at the prospect of what a jury might award, the defendants sought to settle and both sides reached agreement at $1,375,000.
CASE NAME: DOE v. ROE
RECOVERY: $1,500,000 JURY AWARD
The plaintiff was driving down a beautiful California highway one morning when the defendant, in a compact car, suddenly crossed lanes and ran head-on into her station wagon. The defendant died because of injuries suffered in the accident. The plaintiff sued his insurance carrier for the defendant’s (their insured) negligence. She claimed that he should have stayed in his own lane and that open containers of alcohol in the defendant’s car suggested considerable misconduct. Her injuries were not insignificant. She fractured her cheekbone and lost vision completely in her right eye. The carrier did not deny the negligence but countered that the plaintiff’s own negligence (speeding) may have contributed to her wounds. They settled in mediation for the maximum amount of the defendant’s policy: $1,5000,000.
CASE NAME: NIEMAN v. LINARES
RECOVERY: $2,700,000 JURY AWARD
There were multiple cars in this case. It began when the defendant’s semi-truck drifted across the center and sideswiped the plaintiff’s pick-up truck. After this occurrence, another semi-truck owned by the defendant came and rear-ended the plaintiff’s truck. The plaintiff broke many bones in his face as well as his leg and feet. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and weeks in a hospital trying to recover from the accident and had to miss up to one year of work. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff crossed the centerline first and was actually at fault so it ended up going to trial. The jury found that the defendant was 99% responsible and awarded the plaintiff $2,700,000.
CASE NAME: CRICK v. HEIFERMAN-BLATT
RECOVERY: $4,500,000 SETTLEMENT
The defendant in this case drifted into the plaintiff’s lane and broadsided his vehicle as they passed. In addition to the ordinary negligence involved here, it was later discovered that he was under the influence at the time of the accident. As a result of the crash, the plaintiff suffered permanent eye damage, multiple facial lacerations, loss of an ear, and a fractured skull. In addition to these injuries, his career as a doctor was extremely limited following the incident. During negotiations, the doctor claimed compensation due to past and future medical bills of several hundred thousand dollars and future wages of almost $10,000,000. Both sides ended up settling for $4,500,000. This can be attributed to the difficulty of proving these items at trial and the inability of the defendant to pay that amount of damages in the first place.
CASE NAME: MARTIN v. UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD
RECOVERY: $11,762,914 JURY AWARD
This case involves a minor who was driving around the mountains of Colorado. Approaching a railroad crossing, he began to cross when his car died. Soon after that, the crossing gate lowered onto his vehicle, further preventing him from exiting the intersection. Eventually, a train approached and crashed into the car, injuring the boy and giving him multiple broken bones and facial lacerations. In the subsequent lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the train conductor and company had notice but did not slow down the train in time to avoid the collision and did not properly maintain the crossing to adequate safety standards. The jury found for the boy in the amount of $11,762,914. Interestingly, and probably because of the boy’s young age, almost half of this figure represented future wages lost due to the incident. Also, almost one-third of the total award was for punitive damages, ostensibly, to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.