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Study Criticizes Emphasis on Size of Jury Awards

November 01, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Accident victims and others who win jury verdicts of more than $1 million receive less than half of the amount they are awarded because of reductions on appeal and other factors, the Assn. of Trial Lawyers of America said Friday.

A study conducted for the lawyers' group concluded that it is inaccurate to emphasize the size of jury verdicts, as the Reagan Administration is doing in favoring revision of the nation's liability laws.

"Focusing on verdicts is quite misleading," said Ivy Broder, a professor of economics at the American University in Washington who conducted the study. "Settlements differ significantly from verdicts."

Awards May Be Lowered

Jury awards sometimes are uncollectible and may be lowered by a judge or limited under state law. They also may be lowered during settlement negotiations designed to preclude appeals by the defendant, the study indicated.

Broder found that of 198 verdicts totaling about $790 million, the amount paid to the victims was $339 million, a reduction of more than 55%.

The Reagan Administration is pushing for revision of liability laws, saying that the price of all types of insurance is being driven up by the size and number of jury awards.

In a report earlier this year, an Administration working group said the average medical malpractice jury verdict rose by $800,000 in a 10-year span to more than $1 million while the average product liability jury verdict now stands at $1.8 million.

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