Tennessee Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Statistics, 2011-12 – Part 1

The Tennessee Supreme Court has released data concerning filings and dispositions on civil and criminal cases for the year ended June 30, 2012, including personal injury and wrongful death cases.  The Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary is published every year and contains lots of data not readily available from any other source.

To be sure, the Tennessee Jury Verdict Reporter  provides detailed information about jury verdicts in Tennessee personal injury and Tennessee wrongful death cases and that publication is of much more assistance to lawyers seeking to find jury verdict information about a particular type of case.  However, he Annual Report, provides a view our justice system at the 10,000 foot level.

What follows is certain data about personal injury and wrongful death filings in Tennessee for the year ended June 30, 2012.  The second number (in bold) for each category is the same statistic for the prior year,  2010-2011:

  • Total Medical Malpractice Filings – 369      343
  • Total Damage / Tort Filings (not including medical malpractice cases) – 9933    10,233
  • Total Medical Malpractice Cases Resolved – 382             364
  • Total Damage / Tort Cases Resolved (not including med. mal.) – 10,348          10,118
  • Total Cases Resolved of Both Types – 10,730           10,482
  • Total Cases Resolved by Trial – 530                498
  • Total Jury Trials in those Cases – 247             222
  • Total Non-Jury Trials in Those Cases – 283                 277

Here is the same data for the 2011-12 year, but this time the numbers in bold are ten years earlier (for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003).  (Note:  medical malpractice data was not collected for the Annual Report in 2002-03 and thus only the total numbers are given.)

  • Total    Damage / Tort Filings (including medical malpractice cases) – 10,302     12,837
  • Total Cases Resolved  – 10,730     12,040
  • Total Cases Resolved by Trial – 530     763
  • Total Jury Trials in those Cases – 247     395
  • Total Non-Jury Trials in Those Cases – 283     368

So, what preliminary conclusions can we gather from this data?

  1. Tort filings are down by over 20%
  2. Cases continue to be resolved at about the same rate as flings (indeed, we are doing a better job of reducing the number of cases in the judicial pipeline), but 12% fewer cases were resolved in 2011-12 than were resolved in 2002-03.
  3. Trials are down by over 50%.
  4. Jury trials are down 50%.
  5. Non-jury trials now make up a larger percentage of all trials than they did 10 years ago.

Here is a little more data to put the 2011-12 personal injury and wrongful death filings in perspective:

  1. There were almost as many "assault" filings (8764) than there were tort filings.
  2. There were three times more divorce cases (30,000+) than there were tort filings.
  3. Tennessee population has grown over 10% in the last decade.  It would be reasonable to assume that tort filings would increase in proportion to population growth.  Obviously, they have not.

Of course, one explanation for the decrease in filings is that more cases are being settled before suit is filed.  This is certainly possible, although that data is not publicly available.  

Continue to watch this site for more information about the Annual Report.  A more thorough discussion of the meaning of this data will be in a later post.