BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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Civil cases
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Since 1992, BJS has sponsored periodic surveys examining civil trial and appellate litigation in state courts. The Civil Justice Survey of State Courts examines the adjudication of general civil (i.e., tort, contract, and real property) cases by trial in state courts and has occurred every 4 to 5 years, in 1992, 1996, 2001, and 2005. The Civil Justice Survey of State Courts data collection series serves as the primary source for detailed level information on civil cases adjudicated by trial in state courts. Unlike BJS's data collection efforts in the criminal justice area, this data collection series covers cases involving personal injury claims or contractual disputes between private individuals or organizations. Some of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits involve legal issues stemming from automobile accidents, physician or surgeon medical malpractice, faulty products (e.g., asbestos, tobacco), and slip and fall cases. The information collected by the Civil Justice Survey of State Courts includes the types of civil cases concluded by bench or jury trial, the types of plaintiffs and defendants who litigate these cases, trial winners, the amount of compensatory and punitive damages awarded, post-trial activity, and case processing time.

In addition, BJS has fielded studies examining civil trials on appeal. These studies followed civil trials concluded in 2001 or 2005 in state trial courts that were appealed to an intermediate appellate court or court of last resort. The types of information collected from these studies includes the types of civil cases appealed after trial to an intermediate appellate court or court of last resort, the impact of the appellate process on trial court outcomes, the extent that appellate claims are dismissed or withdrawn before being decided on the merits, the types of legal issues raised on appeal, the number of appeals ending in a published opinion, and the rate of judicial dissent at the appellate level.

BJS released the findings of the Survey of State Attorneys General Offices. The report presents information on the jurisdiction of attorneys general over civil white-collar crime offenses.

BJS has also produced several reports examining civil litigation in federal district courts.

Data Collections & Surveys

Publications & Products


Jurisdiction of State Attorneys General Offices over White-Collar Crime, 2014 This report describes the findings of the first Survey of State Attorneys General Offices, which collected information on jurisdiction, sources, and circumstances of white-collar crime cases.
  Full report (PDF 722K) | Data tables (Zip format 20K)

State and Local White Collar Crime Program: State Regulatory Agency Statutes for Selected Offenses (Volume I and II) Examines how all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories handled regulatory functions in four offense categories: banking and finance, environmental, worker safety, and Medicaid fraud.
  Volume I (PDF 1M) | Volume II (PDF 1.41M)

Appeals of Civil Trials Concluded in 2005 Presents information on civil trials concluded in state trial courts in 2005 with judgments or verdicts later appealed to an intermediate appellate court or court of last resort.
  Full report (PDF 1.1M) | ASCII file (25K) | Spreadsheet (Zip format 19K)

Punitive Damage Awards in State Courts, 2005 Presents findings on civil trials concluded in 2005 in a national sample of state trial courts in which punitive damages were requested or awarded.
  Full report (PDF 537K) | ASCII file (27K) | Spreadsheet (Zip format 33K)

Contract Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 Presents findings on contract cases disposed of by a bench or jury trial in a nationally representative sample of jurisdictions in 2005.
  Full report (PDF 456K) | ASCII file (25) | Zip format (24K)
Part of the Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties Series

Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 "In 2005, less than 5 percent of plaintiffs who won in civil bench and jury trials received damages exceeding $1 million"
  Press Release | More information about this release

Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 Discusses general civil cases (tort, contract, and real property) concluded by a bench or jury trial in a national sample of jurisdictions in 2005.
  Press Release | Full report (PDF 290K) | ASCII file (34K) | Spreadsheet (Zip format 24K)

Medical Malpractice Insurance Claims in Seven States, 2000-2004 Focuses on medical malpractice claims that were closed in the states of Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, and Texas from 2000 to 2004.
  Press Release | Full report (PDF 190K) | ASCII file (31K) | Spreadsheet (Zip format 14K)

Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 2002-03 "Number of Federal tort trials fell by almost 80 percent from 1985 through 2003."
  Press Release | More information about this release

Punitive Damage Awards in Large Counties, 2001 Presents findings on civil trials concluded in 2001 in the Nation's 75 largest counties that produced a punitive damage award.
  Full report (PDF 521K) | ASCII file (7K) | Spreadsheet (Zip format 13K) | Codebooks and Datasets

Terms & Definitions

Felony or serious misdemeanor The category of offenses for which fingerprints and criminal history information are accepted by the FBI and entered in the Bureau's files, including the Interstate Identification Index (III) system. Serious misdemeanor is defined to exclude certain minor offenses, such as drunkenness or minor traffic offenses.