According to a Jury Verdict Research study that came out this week looking at jury verdicts from 2000 to 2006, Oklahoma would at first glance appear to be an awful place for lawyers to try personal injury cases. The median compensation award in Oklahoma trials is $6,824 and plaintiffs receive a recovery in only 43% of personal injury cases that go to a jury. Compared to the national data, these figures are awful.
If you are an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer with a seriously injured client, does this mean you do not have a fair chance of getting a fair and meaningful recovery for your client’s injuries? I don’t think so. A full 10% of verdicts in personal injury cases in Oklahoma were for $500,000 or more. While to some extent this is comparing apples to oranges, only in 1% of motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland does the jury award more than $500,000.
This number of significant jury awards leads me to believe that Oklahoma juries might not award significant damages in soft tissue injury cases or other cases where the harm may be less significant, but they will often give fair compensation to the people that really need it the most: people whose lives have been forever changed because of the negligence of someone else.
Jury Verdicts from Oklahoma
The following is a sampling of recent jury verdicts from Oklahoma:
- 2020, Oklahoma: $5,750,000 Verdict. A man underwent ACL reconstruction surgery to repair his torn right ACL he sustained while training for a Judo tournament. The surgeon attempted to place a patellar tendon autograft. He chose to leave half of the tendon in place and substituted the other half with a cadaver graft. This required the surgeon to drill more tunnels to place the cadaver graft. The man’s knee’s range of motion became limited, and he received a postoperative arthrofibrosis and extension contracture diagnosis. Two months later, the same surgeon performed another procedure, in which he attempted to remove the adhesions, but left the graft in place. The man’s condition did not improve, and the surgeon recommended a third procedure. He sought another physician’s opinion instead. The non-party physician attempted to remove the graft, the adhesions, and the hardware. They could not restore function to the man’s knee. After many years and many procedures, a surgeon amputated his right leg above-the-knee. He sued the initial surgeon for damaging the graft, for failing to remove the damaged graft, and for failing to properly perform the first procedure. The surgeon denied liability, claiming that tendon damage is an accepted and known complication of reconstruction surgery. A jury awarded the man $5,750,000.
- 2020, Oklahoma: $142,000 Verdict. A woman suffered an elbow fracture after she slipped and fell on a wet part of a convenience store’s floor. An employee just mopped the floor right before the incident. She underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery. The woman sued the convenience store’s owner for failing to maintain safe conditions, failing to warn of a hazard, and failing to adequately train and supervise their employees. The convenience store denied negligence, claiming that there were wet floor cones placed near where she fell. A jury found the woman 47 percent negligent but awarded her $142,000. Her net recovery totaled $75,260.
- 2020, Oklahoma: $15,180 Verdict. A woman sustained soft-tissue neck and back injuries from an auto accident. Another backed out of a parking lot and struck her as she traveled down the main road. She sought a chiropractor for treatment of her injuries. The woman alleged that the other driver failed to yield right-of-way, failed to pay attention to the road, and endangered other traffic. The other driver admitted liability but disputed her injury’s extent. A jury awarded the woman a $15,180 award.
- 2019, Oklahoma: $72,000 Verdict. A motorcyclist was traveling on a main road’s far left lane in Oklahoma City. Another vehicle moved into his lane, directly in front of him. This caused the motorcyclist to swerve and strike the vehicle’s right bumper. The man suffered unspecified injuries and the motorcycle, owned by a relative of his, sustained damage. He and his relative sued the other driver for failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to yield right-of-way, and failing to properly control her vehicle. The driver denied liability, claiming the man’s own negligence caused the accident. A jury found the man 10 percent negligent and the driver 90 percent negligent. They awarded him $70,632 in damages, which was reduced to $63,569.
- 2019, Oklahoma, $25,000 Verdict. A man was working at a construction site in Oklahoma City. He was taking items from his truck’s rear. Another construction worker just left his truck unattended. The truck then rolled back into the man, who was now caught between his truck and the other worker’s truck. He suffered undisclosed back, right shoulder, right knee, and chest injuries. The man sued the truck’s driver for failing to properly park the vehicle and failing to keep it in proper working order. He also used the truck’s owner for negligently entrusting the vehicle to the driver. The jury awarded the man a $25,000 verdict.