This question is asked of me in every meeting with a potential client. Unfortunately, I do not have a crystal ball that permits me to definitively respond to that question. However, I have faith in statistics, and in Colorado the answer to the question is that a case will probably not proceed to trial. Approximately one percent (1%) of filed cases go to trial. However, someone must be that one percent, right?
I recently attended a scheduling conference in a federal court matter and the Judge asked the attorneys—namely me—what the likelihood was this particular case would be tried. I responded that based on statistics it was very unlikely that it would go to trial. He then told us about the statistics that the federal court keeps on this topic:
The Judge narrowed the statistics to the insurance cases tried in 2015. Of those, nine cases went to trial on breach of contract and bad faith causes of action. The average length of trial was 4-7 days. Of the nine cases in trial, four resulted in a verdict for the insurance company and five were a verdict for the policyholder. The average jury verdict was $1,634,000 with the range of verdicts from $70,000 to $4,000,000. If you exclude the largest verdict, the average verdict was $257,293.
So, what does all of this tell us? It is unlikely that your case will go to trial, but we must always prepare as if it will and that your case is part of that very small number of cases that will be tried. It tells us that just over half tried were won by the policyholder. That there is a large gap between the smallest and largest jury verdict. It tells us that the average verdict is a pretty good chunk of change. But we know nothing about the facts of those cases, so take the above statistics with a grain of salt (and perhaps some tequila and a lime).
When we work with you and pursue your property damage claim, from day one we treat your case as though it is going to trial. And Merlin Law Group statistics of this year tell us we do pretty darn well at trial. See Chip Merlin’s blog of June 2, 2016, “Merlin Law Group Wins Hailstorm Trial Against Travelers—Hard Work Pays Off!!” So will your case go to trial? Probably not, but if it does we will be more than ready.