Personal injury claims are common in the United States, with millions filing lawsuits every year. These lawsuits seek compensation for injuries or damages caused by the negligence of another person or entity. While most personal injury claims result in settlements, a few stand out due to their size and impact.
You should contact an attorney for any assistance related to a personal injury claim. They will provide legal guidance and support throughout the process.
Now, let’s read about the six most significant personal injury settlements in the US.
1. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement – $206 Billion
In 1998, the United States reached a historic settlement with major tobacco companies to resolve a lawsuit filed by 46 states seeking recovery of Medicaid costs associated with treatment for smoking-related illnesses. As part of this agreement, the tobacco industry agreed to pay $206 billion over 25 years and change its advertising and marketing practices. This settlement remains the most significant civil settlement in US history.
2. The Family of Robert Middleton – $150 Billion
Did you know that personal injury claims can also be filed posthumously? In 1998, Robert Middleton suffered burns on over 99% of his body after an attack by a teenage neighbor. Despite multiple surgeries and years of suffering, he passed away in 2011 at the age of 20.
His family filed a civil lawsuit against the attacker, seeking damages for the physical and emotional pain Robert went through. In 2014, a jury awarded the Middletons $150 billion in punitive damages, sending a strong message to society about the consequences of violent crimes.
3. BP Oil Spill – $20 Billion
This one may not come as a surprise. Around 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and caused the largest oil spill in US waters. This disaster cost BP billions in damages, including $20 billion in settlements for individuals and businesses impacted by the oil spill. This settlement also established a trust fund for future claims related to the fall.
4. The Anderson Family vs. General Motors – $4.9 Billion
In 1999, the Anderson family’s vehicle caught fire due to a faulty gas tank design by General Motors (GM). The accident left six-year-old Shannon Moseley severely burned and caused the death of her older brother. After years of litigation, GM agreed to pay $4.9 billion in damages to settle the case, making it one of the largest personal injury settlements against a car manufacturer in US history.
5. Gas Station Manager Awarded $60 Million
A jury awarded $60 million to a gas station manager who suffered brain injuries after being struck by a derailed train while on the job in 2017. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the railway company and its employees for failing to secure the train, leading to the accident. This verdict is one of the most significant personal injury awards for an individual in US history.
6. McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case – $640,000
Stella Liebeck filed a personal injury lawsuit against McDonald’s after suffering third-degree burns from spilling hot coffee on her lap in 1992. The jury awarded her $640,000 in damages, which included compensation for medical expenses and punitive damages. While this settlement is significantly smaller than the others on our list, it gained national attention and changed how companies serve hot beverages to customers.
Why Do These Settlements Matter?
These personal injury settlements financially compensate the victims and their families and deter negligent behavior. These cases shed light on important issues such as product safety, workplace safety, and the public health impact of tobacco use. They have also helped shape laws and regulations to protect individuals from harm caused by corporations and other entities.
Personal injury settlements can significantly impact the lives of those affected. While these high-profile cases often make headlines, it’s important to remember that every personal injury claim is unique and deserves fair compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, seeking legal guidance is crucial to protecting your rights.