Many people, including jurors have misconceptions on “big verdicts”. Often folks think winning a law suit or settlement is like hitting the lottery.
The truth is no one would want the injuries that our clients have in most of our cases for any amount of money.
When you recover a jury verdict the first thing that happens is that a portion of the money goes to pay medical bills. Now you might say doesn’t everyone have insurance? Well the sad truth of today is that many people do not have insurance. However if there is insurance, most have a right or subrogation or reimbursement.
Insurance whether someone has health insurance or car insurance it is something that is hidden from you actually while you are sitting on a jury. The other thing that happens is if medical bills have been paid by a health benefit plan or a health insurance company, they are looking to be reimbursed. So a portion of the money that the jury awards must go either to pay the doctors or to reimburse the health plan.
The second thing that happens is you have the cost of the trial. The costs of trial can vary from a few thousand to over one hundred thousand in complicated cases. Costs include depositions of witnesses, doctors, experts and other medical providers. We have cases in our office today that the costs already exceed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
If doctors come to trial live just that testimony can costs anywhere between $5,000-10,000 to pay them for time missed from surgery, time missed from seeing patients in the office, time preparing for the trial. Many cases have multiple doctors involved.
Costs and medical bills are not anything the lawyer gets or the client. These monies go straight to the doctors. If the doctor testified by video tape deposition anywhere from $3,000-5,000 will have spent to get that doctor there.
Typically lost wages will be reimbursed even though someone may have had sick leave or vacation time they used. That is now time they can’t use because they have already burned it.
So if a jury awards money for lost wages that goes to compensate for time lost from work.
Of course the lawyer is going to get paid. Typically they have been working on case for a couple years without any guarantee of getting paid. They are charging typically between a third and 40% of the recovery.
Finally after all those things are paid, the client/ injured person gets what is left over to compensate for any their harms and losses including their permanent disability, scarring, pain and suffering, and other intangibles.