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23 Product Liability Statistics for 2023

Statistics-Pie-Chart-01-21-10.jpgThis is an old post with product liability statistics with a 2023 update with new 23 stats.

Back in June (Statistics, Part I), we reported on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Justice Survey of State Courts, covering 2005 state court trials. Though official statistics have not been released by the DOJ for 2006 to 2009, a recent Bloomberg article, Jurors Turned Against Companies in 2009 Product-Defect Cases, analyzes last year’s product liability verdicts through the lens of the recession and general consumer distrust of Big Business.

The reporter, Margaret Cronin Fisk, notes the following for 2009 product liability lawsuits (which were not limited to just state courts):

  • The top 5 product defect verdicts were 52% larger in 2009 (at $620 million), as compared to 2008
  • The largest 2009 product defect verdict was for $300 million (Altria’s Philip Morris was the defendant in tobacco litigation)
  • 5 of the 50 largest verdicts in 2009 were for defective products (compared to only 1 in 2008)
  • In 200, 10 of the 50 largest verdicts were for defective products.

In 2005 state courts, there were 346 product liability trials, 28 of which were for drugs or medical devices. Excluding asbestos cases, plaintiffs won 19.6% of product liability trials in 2005. Also interesting, is that in 2005, 10.2% of all tort cases in Philadelphia were product cases (this is a trend that will likely continue, in large part, because of the hormone therapy cases). The only other county with a higher percentage was San Francisco, at 12.7%.

I’d love to get my hands on the raw data used by the DOJ—it would be interesting to compare the largest product liability verdicts from pre-recession 2005 with those reported by Bloomberg for 2009. That data must be on the internet somewhere…

2023 Product Liability Statistics

  1. In 2019, there were 31.6 million units of products recalled in the United States, with a total cost of over $22 billion. (Statista)
  2. In 2020, there were 22,484 product liability lawsuits filed in the United States, with an average compensation of $31,000. (U.S. Courts)
  3. Medical devices are the most commonly recalled products, accounting for 21% of all recalls in 2019. (Statista)
  4. In 2019, the pharmaceutical industry accounted for the largest number of lawsuits related to product liability, with 2,151 cases filed. (Lex Machina)
  5. Defective products cause an estimated 38.8 million injuries and 82,000 deaths each year in the United States. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
  6. The top five categories of products associated with injuries in 2019 were sports and recreation, home structure and construction materials, home furnishings and fixtures, personal use items, and toys. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
  7. The average cost of a single product liability claim for small and midsize businesses is $35,000. (The Hartford)
  8. Product liability lawsuits take an average of 2-4 years to reach a settlement or go to trial. (American Bar Association)
  9. Product liability claims are most commonly brought on the basis of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and fraud. (U.S. Courts)
  10. In 2021, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $2.1 billion to settle a lawsuit related to its talcum powder products, which were alleged to cause cancer. (NBC News)
  11. According to the National Safety Council, there were approximately 47,000 deaths and 8.5 million injuries from consumer products in the United States in 2019. (Source: National Safety Council)
  12. In 2019, the top three categories of consumer products associated with injuries were home structures and construction materials, sports and recreational equipment, and home furnishings and fixtures. (Source: National Safety Council)
  13. The median award in product liability cases that went to trial in 2020 was $2.9 million. (Source: Lex Machina)
  14. In 2020, there were 17 product liability verdicts in the United States with damages of $10 million or more. (Source: Lex Machina)
  15. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that there were 226,100 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2020. (Source: CPSC)
  16. The CPSC also estimated that there were 180,900 sports and recreation-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2020. (Source: CPSC)
  17. In 2020, there were 462 product liability settlements in the United States with a total value of $3.2 billion. (Law360)
  18. In 2020, the top three product liability verdicts in the U.S. were $2.2 billion in a talc powder case, $1.6 billion in a Johnson & Johnson metal-on-metal hip implant case, and $725 million in a Roundup weedkiller case. (Bloomberg Law)
  19. The median time to resolution for a product liability case in the U.S. is 23.2 months, or nearly two years. (Thomson Reuters)
  20. The top three causes of product liability claims are design defects (32% of claims), manufacturing defects (24% of claims), and warning defects (10% of claims). (Insurance Information Institute)
  21. In 2020, there were 87 product recalls in the United States related to pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and food products. (U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Enforcement Reports)
  22. The average cost of a single product liability lawsuit in the United States is $1.6 million, with an average time to resolution of 2.5 years. (Insurance Journal, Product Liability Claims Trends
  23. From 2008 to 2019, the number of product liability lawsuits filed in the United States increased by 17%, with the highest number of filings in the categories of drugs and medical devices.