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How Many Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial?

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Photo: Eric Chan, Flickr.com

Personal injury cases are legal disputes resolved through civil litigation. Unlike criminal cases, where the State seeks criminal sanctions against an individual, civil litigation consists of parties seeking some type of monetary damage or other specific result. Civil cases deal with a wide variety of laws including contract, tort, and property law. They are either filed as limited cases, where a plaintiff seeks damages of $25,000 or less, or unlimited cases where a plaintiff seeks damages of over $25,000. The majority of civil cases filed are personal injury tort cases where a plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for an injury sustained by another person’s negligence. These lawsuits are brought for various reasons, such as motor-vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or defective products.

Many civil cases can be resolved without going to trial through an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, such as arbitration or mediation.  Arbitration and mediation bring together the persons involved in the lawsuit in an informal setting.  The goal is to reach a fair resolution without incurring the time and expense of trial.

The 2015 Court Statistics Report reported a total of 835,215 civil cases filed in California during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. About 173,420 of these cases were unlimited civil cases. Roughly, 78% of these unlimited civil cases were resolved in either a final judgement or dismissal and only 22% resolved after trial. About 507,728 cases are filed as limited civil cases and about 6% of those were resolved after trial.

While there is no exact national data, the U.S. Department of Justice reports about 4% of all personal injury cases filed nationally actually go to trial. The majority of personal injury cases are resolved in either settlements or dismissals before trial is even assigned.

Here, at Kershaw, Cook, & Talley, our attorneys have extensive experience in litigating personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured, call our office at (916) 779-7000 for a free case evaluation.

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