When determining the value of a personal injury case, the type of injury the plaintiff suffered is one of the most important factors. Severe injuries are more likely to result in big verdicts. Minor injuries tend to result in minor verdicts or defense verdicts. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a severe injury, and juries in Florida have recognized the severity of it by rendering large verdicts in numerous cases. However, the validity of a diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is often the subject of dispute among experts. This is because there is often little objective evidence to support a finding of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. For that reason, if you have a case involving Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, it’s extremely important to find an attorney experienced in proving the existence and the severity of the disorder.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition characterized by prolonged or excessive pain or swelling in the extremities. A person suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can suffer excruciating pain. The pain is often characterized as a burning sensation, like a hot iron pressing against the affected area. This pain can be triggered by light touch, often something as insignificant as a puff of wind. The injury most frequently occurs from a bodily injury sustained in an accident of some sort.
We attempted to research Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases specifically in Orlando, but we were only able to find eight cases. Therefore, we broadened our search to the entire State of Florida to find a statistically valid sample. In a case study of forty-three random cases, jury verdicts in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases in the State of Florida range from $0 to $13,118,000. The average verdict is $738,168, including defense verdicts. The median case value is $691,000 when excluding defense verdicts. A defense verdict is what happens when the plaintiff loses and recovers nothing for his or her injuries.
Of the forty-three cases studied, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases had a 39.53% rate of receiving a verdict 100% in favor of the Plaintiff, a 6.98% rate of receiving a verdict where the defendant is found partially at fault, and a 53.49% failure rate with a verdict in favor of the defendant.
Our analysis shows that some case types tend to fare better in the view of the jury than others. For example, in the study of forty-three cases, two out of nine Medical Malpractice cases received verdicts in favor of the plaintiff, whereas in the same study, seven out of twelve Motor Vehicle Accident cases received verdicts in favor of the plaintiff. Moreover, Slip-and-Fall and Trip-and-Fall cases came closer to the average success rate of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases with three plaintiff’s verdicts and four defense verdicts. Typically, about 50% of all trip/slip and fall cases result in a plaintiff’s verdict when Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is not involved. Because our study is limited to 43 cases, the difference we found is probably within an acceptable margin of error, but it also may be due to the hotly disputed nature of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Another interesting variable we analyzed is the age of the Plaintiff. In a personal injury case, the typical wisdom is that younger plaintiffs tend to get larger awards than older plaintiffs. This is because younger plaintiffs have more years to accumulate medical bills and lost wages, and more years to suffer. We don’t find this to be true in our sample of 43 cases. In our study, cases where the Plaintiff is forty-years-old or older seem to show a slightly positive correlation to both higher rates of verdicts in favor of the plaintiff, as well as higher monetary settlements if a plaintiff-favored verdict is rewarded. Our study would indicate that the chances of receiving a plaintiff-favored verdict or a defendant-favored verdict is almost a one-to-one ratio for plaintiffs that are forty years of age or older. Conversely, in cases where the Plaintiff was younger than forty-years-old, the ratio of defense verdicts to plaintiff-favored verdicts is two to one, for every one plaintiff-favored verdict, there are two defense verdicts. In the same case study, the age of a Plaintiff is also linked positively to higher monetary settlements. To illustrate this, two Motor Vehicle Accident cases, Case #1 and Case #2, were analyzed and it was found that even though the details of the cases were almost identical, Case #1 received a $995,000 verdict where Case #2 received a $100,000 verdict. The only major identifiable difference? The plaintiff in Case #1 was in his or her early sixties, where the Plaintiff in Case #2 was in his early twenties. One reason for this could be that the jury in case #2 did not find a permanent injury on behalf of the plaintiff, because the plaintiff was young and more likely to heal. In automobile accident cases in Florida, a plaintiff is entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and lost capacity for the enjoyment of life only if the jury finds that the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury as a result of the accident. If the jury finds no permanent injury, the plaintiff is limited to compensation for economic losses such as medical bills and lost wages.
Finally, plaintiffs with credibility concerns and pre-existing injuries often produce low success rates at a jury trial. In a small study of six Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases with either pre-existing conditions or significant credibility issues, all six received Defense verdicts. Some of the pre-existing conditions include a prior motor vehicle accident, previous lumbar surgery, and preceding shoulder dislocations and soft-tissue surgeries. Credibility concerns included surveillance and/or photo or video evidence of a Plaintiff performing activities that he or she had previously denied being able to perform, and the defense being able to prove the plaintiff had a previous dependency to prescription drugs and was using his or her current “pain” to supply the addiction.
Based solely upon our limited study, a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Case, if successfully litigated, has a huge margin for potential verdicts that spans approximately $13,166,535. Although the glaring problem for plaintiffs with these types of cases is the chance of a verdict in favor of the Defendant, there is still a decent rate of success as well. Factoring in the plaintiff’s age, the type of case to be tried, and any pre-existing conditions or complications with credibility, the value of the case becomes less of a mystery. Still, every case is different, and there are many subtle factors in all personal injury cases that cannot be accounted for with statistical analyses. The case study does show that, given the right set of facts, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cases can elicit some large verdicts by an experienced and competent attorney.