Personal injury lawsuits can be messy. For victims, the trauma and damages of an accident can upend their lives. For reckless companies, their lack of oversight can end up costing them a ton in legal costs, and settlement fees. In some of the most egregious personal injury cases, the payouts reach a level that few would believe. To learn more, read about the five largest personal injury awards and settlements ever:
1. Tobacco Master Settlement – $206 Billion
Tobacco is commonly known to be incredibly toxic and dangerous for human consumption. That being said, only several decades ago many were led to believe that there was little-to-no risk in using tobacco products regularly. In 1988, 46 states joined forces to sue the four largest tobacco companies. This allowed them to recover a whopping $206 billion, which was used to help care for the healthcare costs of millions upon millions of lifetime smokers. Without the staggering effects this lawsuit had on the country, we would likely still be in the dark about the many negative health impacts of smoking. Chicago PI lawyers work tirelessly to help citizens fight against giant corporations in personal injury lawsuits every single day.
2. Robert Middleton Settlement – $150 Billion
Eight-year-old Robert Middleton was tragically sexually assaulted, doused in gasoline, and then set on fire by Don Collins, a thirteen-year-old, in 1998. Twelve years after the assault, Middleton passed away from skin cancer complications. Robert’s family sued Collins, claiming that the skin cancer was caused by the gasoline-involved burns. After a heated trial, Collins was charged with the wrongful death of Middleton, and the Middleton family received a massive $150 billion in punitive damages. Because of the heinous nature of the crime, Collins was sentenced as an adult. The shock the case had on the nation at the time was widespread, and many still remember it to this day.
3. BP Oil Spill Settlement – $20 Billion
Many of the charges against BP involved in this settlement were not directly related to personal injuries. However, enough injuries were involved to make this item fit the list of the largest personal injury awards and settlements ever. Even $20 billion was seen as too little for the immense emotional, environmental, and physical damage that BP’s reckless actions caused, however. In fact, there are intense environmental issues that are still being caused by the aftermath of the infamous BP oil spill. Unfortunately, many other major oil companies are continuing to cause environmental havoc that will last for decades to come.
4. Anderson Family General Motors Settlement – $4.9 Billion
A Chevy Malibu, containing a family of six, was hit by a drunk driver in 1993. The impact of the accident caused the Malibu’s fuel tank to catch fire, and then explode. Each member of the family, including four young children, suffered severe, life-altering burns in the accident. General Motors fought the family in court for years but was ultimately ordered to pay a settlement of $4.9 billion to the family. However, this case was later altered when General Motors appealed the decision, and a Superior Court Judge, unfortunately, lowered the settlement to just $1.2 billion.
5. Gas Station Manager Train Derailment Settlement – $60 Million
A trackside gas station attendee, Donald French, was involved in an accident where a derailed train ran into his workplace. Because of the rarity of trains derailing, Donald likely thought that he was completely safe from any train-related injury while on the job. The immense damage of the accident made it a true spectacle. While French lived through the incident, he suffered from a traumatic brain injury that still affects him to this day. He was initially awarded just $46 million in damages, but after accounting for the interest involved in the payout, he ultimately made a total of $60 million.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Have the Potential to Payout Massive Amounts
Because injuries can upend a person’s life, and lead to lifelong conditions, victims in personal injury lawsuits must receive a fair, and substantial settlement. Many personal injury lawyers work on contingency, which allows them to represent clients that would otherwise have a hard time paying for expensive legal actions. These lawyers allow the little guy to rise up against massive corporations. Even after victims receive payouts for their injuries, the trauma of accidents can stay with them. With financial assistance, they can receive the physical and mental healthcare they need to continue leading productive, healthy lives.