Pendulum Swinging

Massachusetts personal injury lawyers have noticed in the past year or so, a marked increase in the size of jury verdicts in serious personal injury cases. My unscientific observations suggest that the amount of pre-trial settlements in cases of wrongful death, medical malpractice, and negligence cases, are also rising. That would be no surprise, as settlements are driven by the insurance companies’ calculations of what they might lose if they took the case to trial and verdict.

Recent current events may also spark a return to generous verdicts and settlements in severe personal injury cases. For too long, the insurance industry’s brilliantly conceived “tort reform” publicity campaign, convinced many people that plaintiffs’ lawyers and large verdicts were a cause of social and economic harm. Now, the near-collapse of the financial system, the long-term incompetence of the big three auto companies, and the unparalleled greed of big money bankers and financiers, should serve as a reminder that what is good for big business is not always good for America. Juries may once again be more comfortable exercising their role as balancers of the scales of power and money.

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