The US is well-known for its compensation culture, where people routinely sue companies and individuals for compensation. Research carried out by consumer group Which? has found that the US wins the war of compensation payouts compared to claims in the UK.
Which? looked at compensation claims payments in the US and the UK. It was clear that litigation is a huge business in the US, where payouts are usually much higher, but the data also showed that claims are rising in the UK too.
The Middleton case was the largest settlement in a personal injury claim ever awarded in a US court. The parents of Robbie Middleton were awarded $150 billion following their son’s death, 12 years after being sexually assaulted and set on fire by Don Collins. The parents brought a civil suit against their son’s attacker and the jury was asked to “make a statement”. The Middleton’s admit they won’t ever see a cent, but they wanted to send a statement to law enforcement that Collins was dangerous and other kids were at-risk.
The highest personal injury settlement in the UK was awarded to a young girl whose dreams of being a vet were dashed when the car she was in was hit from behind by a van driven by a council worker. The child was only a toddler when the accident occurred, but she was left profoundly disabled and will never walk or talk again. The judge awarded an initial payout of £9 million with annual payments to cover the cost of her care for life, the eventual settlement was worth around £28 million.
Another huge settlement in the US was linked to an automotive case involving an accident between a car and a truck. Five nursing students were killed when a truck driver plowed into a line of stationary cars at the scene of an earlier accident. The $80 million award was the largest ever for a case of this kind, but before the prosecuting attorney agreed to the huge settlement, he forced the trucking companies being sued to commit to making changes that would prevent accidents of this nature from ever happening again.
Leading truck attorney, Horst Shewmaker, described the award as a “game-changer” for future cases.
The second largest payout in the US was awarded to 12-year-old Tiffany Applewhite after a catalog of medical errors by New York EMTs left her severely brain-damaged. The original case was dismissed but the US Court of Appeal sent the case to a jury, who awarded the family $172 million in damages.
Another notable case involved Tierney Darden, a dancer left partially paralyzed after a pedestrian shelter collapsed on her at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. She was later awarded $148 million when she sued for damages in a civil case against the city of Chicago. The Mayor of Chicago announced after the judgment the city would be appealing the massive award.