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Tort Cases in Large Counties

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 1995
9 pages
S K Smith; C J DeFrances; P A Langan; J Goerdt
Publication Series
This report presents the methodology and findings of a survey of tort cases in State courts of general jurisdiction in the Nation's 75 largest counties in 1992.
The estimated 378,000 tort cases were disposed from July 1, 1991, to June 30, 1992. A representative sample of 18,000 tort cases was drawn from court files in 45 of the Nation's 75 largest counties, located in 21 States. For each sampled case, a standard coding form was manually completed by staff on-site to record information about the litigants, case type, disposition type, processing time, and case outcome. A tort involves claims that arise from personal injury or property damage caused by the negligent or intentional act of another person or business. Findings show that the majority of cases disposed were auto torts (complaints that charged damage caused by a motor vehicle). Complex cases that involved medical malpractice, product liability, or toxic substance together composed approximately 10 percent of all tort cases. Approximately 75 percent of the cases were disposed through an agreed settlement or voluntary dismissal, 3 percent by a trial verdict. Twenty-eight percent of the approximately 378,000 tort cases were uncontested (the defendant did not file an answer to the complaint). Half the tort cases were disposed within 14 months; auto tort cases were settled in a shorter period than all other cases. Tort cases involved primarily individuals that sued other individuals. Half of all the tort cases involved three or more litigants. 9 tables

Date Created: December 28, 2009