Why Are Some Below-the-elbow Amputation Cases Worth More Than Others?

Analyzing the 25 below-the-elbow arm amputation cases taken from jury verdict research across the State of Florida, we saw three high-value outliers: $6.3 million dollars, $7.25 million dollars, and $10 million dollars. These values are all out of the status quo of values for the data set, which places most values between $0 and $3,592,690. To picture the discrepancy between the outliers and the other values in the data set, please refer to the line graph below (Fig. 1).

Case values chart

Figure 1. In this line graph, you can see the outliers of the sample set indicated by the high peaks of each high-value case.

Statistical outliers are values that go far above (or below) the standard range of values of a given data set. Outliers often pique a researcher’s interest and informs the researcher to give distinct attention to that data value to figure out why that value would diverge from the normal trend of values. For jury verdict research purposes, outliers call anyone analyzing jury verdict research cases to a specific case to look at the details of that case and to read closer into the facts of the case to determine why that case received a higher verdict in a jury trial setting than another essentially equal case. High-value outliers should also be scrutinized due to their capacity to skew the average of a data set because of their unusually high value, so it’s important to always compute averages with and without the outliers for the most characteristic average of a data set.

Observing specifically the below-the-elbow amputations cases seen in the 25-case sample, the cases with outliers normally have qualifying conditions that differentiate them from the other cases in the data set. To illustrate this, let’s look at the outliers from the sample set.

In Case Study 1, we see the highest outlier of $10 million dollars. This case involved a 34-year-old female plaintiff who was heading eastbound on a State Road in Brevard County. The plaintiff came to a stop in a construction zone and was rear ended by the defendant, who was in the course and scope of his employment. The impact caused the plaintiff’s gas filler tube to separate from the gas tank and ignite. The plaintiff barely made it out of the burning vehicle and suffered third- and fourth-degree burns over 55% of her body, largely on her back and right side. Because the burns were so devastating, the plaintiff’s hand surgeon had to amputate in middle of her right forearm; the plaintiff still faces multiple imminent reconstructive procedures. This case was resolved through settlement.

Case Study 6 involved a 62-year-old male plaintiff employed as a security guard who alleged that he was crushed between two trailers after being struck by the co-defendant’s truck while he attempted to unlock a loaded trailer in the course and scope of his employment. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant operated his truck in a negligent manner, failed to keep a proper lookout, backed the truck when it was not safe to do so and negligently caused permanent injuries including a below-the-elbow amputation of his left arm, multiple finger amputations on his right hand, abdominal trauma with internal bleeding and bowel resection, and emotional distress. The plaintiff also claimed the facility where he was working was negligent in requiring its security guards to position themselves behind trucks to unlock their trailers. This case was resolved through a settlement of $7.25 million dollars.

Finally, Case Study 21 involved a products liability claim from a 40-year-old male plaintiff. The plaintiff was employed as a master chef/restaurant owner when he lost his dominant hand when a pasta-making machine turned on while his hand was in the machine. The plaintiff claimed that the machine had a defective safety switch causing the machine to turn on by itself and that the defendants were negligent for selling the machine that they knew was defective. After losing his hand, the plaintiff could do very little cooking and took on a supervisory position. This case was resolved by a plaintiff’s verdict in which the plaintiff received $6.3 million dollars, $4.25 of which was for punitive damages and $50,000 was for the plaintiff’s spouse’s loss of services.

To learn more about the value attributed to all above-the-elbow amputation cases, please see our other blogs.

If you’re a potential client, or an attorney seeking a second opinion, and would like to discuss the value of your case please feel free to call us anytime at (850)-244-3310.