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Myth: The number of lawsuits filed is skyrocketing- The number of tort (personal injury) cases has been declining for years. According to the National Center for State Courts, tort cases accounted for just 4.4 percent of all civil cases filed in 2008, and declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008. Tort filings in state courts decreased by six percent between 2007 and 2008. More details here http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: Health care costs are rising and doctors are unable to practice due to litigation- Health care costs are rising; however, medical malpractice litigation has nothing to do with it. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: Legal reform is needed because lawsuits hurt small businesses- Wrong. Multiple surveys have shown that lawsuits are not a concern for small business owners. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: Trial attorneys are trying to drive corporations out of business– Absolutely not. Corporations, large and small, are all entitled to have profitable businesses. Most do so without being negligent or engaging in misconduct. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: Lawsuits are out of control. Someone even sued because they spilled hot coffee on their lap! Those looking to destroy the civil justice have continually mocked Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case. Unfortunately, the actual facts of this case make it no laughing matter. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: Trial attorneys are charging outrageous hourly fees and leave victims with nothing if they win– Civil justice attorneys do not charge by the hour like most other attorneys. Instead, their clients pay on what is called a “contingency fee basis.” http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: My insurance rates are skyrocketing because of lawsuits– Your insurance premiums may be going up, but it has nothing to do with lawsuits. Look no further than the insurance industry’s annual profit reporting. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Myth: Lawsuits cost taxpayers X hundreds of dollars each year– Several so-called “independent” think tanks or organizations have devised the notion that American families pay a yearly “tort tax,” or that the cost of litigation is passed on to taxpayers. These organizations, funded by oil, drug, tobacco, and insurance companies, produce studies that are a prime example of junk science. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2011.htm
Other Talking Points
The Civil Justice System keeps you safer. Here are several cases that have made a difference.
Research and examples of how our civil justice system works.
Why We Need the Civil Justice System.
Medical Malpractice– According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 people every year at a cost of $29 billion. If the Centers for Disease Control classified medical errors as a category it would be the sixth leading cause of death, killing more people annually than auto accidents or guns. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2031.htm
Consumer Rights– American consumers are vulnerable to injury or death from dangerous and defective products every day http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/15009.htm
Regulation and the Courts– AAJ works to strengthen the civil justice system by protecting Americans’ basic legal rights and holding negligent corporations accountable. http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/2031.htm
License to Steal: How the U.S. Chamber Forced Arbitration on America
Truck Safety Alert: Rising Danger from Trucks and How to Stop It
Unequal Harm: The Disproportionate Damage to Women from Dangerous Drugs and Medical Devices
Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans
Do As I Say, Not As I Sue: Exposing the Lawsuit-Happy Hypocrites of U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform
Medical Negligence: The Role of America’s Civil Justice System in Protecting Patients’ Rights
Playing with Safety: Dangerous Toys and the Role of America’s Civil Justice System
The Chamber Litigation Machine: How the Chamber Uses Lawsuits to Keep Americans Out of Court
Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans
Hazardous to Your Health: How the Civil Justice System Holds Corporate Polluters Accountable
ALEC: Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America
Driven to Safety: How Litigation Spurred Auto Safety Innovations
They Knew and Failed To (Manufactures know their product is dangerous)
Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse
Get Out of Jail Free: An Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability
The Ten Worst Insurance Companies In America
Pattern of Greed 2007 (Hurricane Katrina)
Pattern of Greed 2006 (Hurricane Katrina)
How the Civil Justice System has helped make America safer
The Face of MICRA
Constitutionality of MICRA damage caps argued in Court of Appeal
Medical Board inaction, MICRA cap combine to leave Californians’ safety in question
New film explores pro-corporate bias of U.S. Supreme Court
Are doctors really fleeing New York because of malpractice costs?
A look at the claim that raising the MICRA cap would add $10 BILLION a year to California health care costs
How the MICRA cap violates Californians’ rights to equal protection, jury trial and due process
New film explores pro-corporate bias of U.S. Supreme Court (video)
38 is Too Late (California MICRA law and cases)
Myth: “Litigation happy” trial lawyers are clogging the courts with “frivolous” lawsuits.
Reality: In California, the number of civil lawsuits has plummeted by more than 30% during the past decade. The same goes nationwide: The Department of Justice performed a study of civil trials in state courts and found that the number of civil trials dropped by 47% between 1992 and 2001.
Myth: “Runaway jurors” in “judicial hellholes” are awarding excessive damages.
Reality: Data released by the Justice Department’s BJS shows that in state courts, the median jury verdict in all tort suits was $37,000 in 2001 – down from $65,000 in 1992.
Myth: “Jackpot justice” is responsible for a spike in insurance premiums.
Reality: Studies show that states that have enacted tort reform legislation have actually seen a 48.2% increase in insurance premiums (Weiss Ratings Inc.). In fact ATRA’s President, Sherman Joyce, stated “We wouldn’t tell you or anyone that the reason to pass tort reform would be to reduce insurance rates.”
“Hot Coffee” The Movie (The Truth About the McDonald’s Hot Coffee Burn Case)
A World Without Lawyers (movie)
How Trial Lawyers Help and Protect American Consumers (movies)
Bad Insurance Companies- Recognize anyone on the list?
The Ugly Truth About How Insurance Companies Settle Claims
How Insurance Defense Attorneys Try to Deprive You of Your Legal Rights
How Insurance Companies Really Treat Disaster Victims
ALLIGATORS, CLAIMS ADJUSTERS AND MARSHMALLOWS- The truth about insurance companies
Be Careful When Dealing With Insurance Companies
Deposition of Defense Doctor
Our “Top 10″ Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Give a Sworn Statement to the Other Side’s Insurance Company
Be Careful! The Ugly Truth Behind How Insurance Companies Settle Cases
Insurance Bad Faith- We Hear and See These Stories Every Day
RABBITS AND LIONS- Why most people need an EXPERIENCED lawyer when taking on big insurance companies
Excellent Articles, Posts, and Talking Points from Fellow Consumer Attorneys
Tina Willis– Florida Consumer Lawyer
Stephan Futeral (South Carolina Consumer Lawyer)
Steven Sweat– (California Consumer Lawyer)
Steven Gursten (Michigan Consumer Lawyer)
Michigan’s Medical Malpractice Tort Reform “The Juice Isn’t Worth the Squeeze” (shared by Mr. Gursten)
“The social purpose of Tort Law is accident and injury prevention. It is only when we fail in our initial purpose that we move to the secondary purpose, compensation for the injured person.”
“The quest for Social Justice is not a cause, it is the basic element of life. Those who yield to the tyranny of a superior sovereign, and fail to stand for that which is right and just today, are doomed to suffer tomorrow as the horror of their inaction bears fruit.”
“The wisdom of our ages and the blood of our heroes has been devoted to the attainment of trial by jury. It should be the creed of our political faith.” -Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address 1801
“…trial by jury…the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution….” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Tom Paine, 1789
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If you’d like to know about how we feel about our civil justice system or your right to trial by jury, visit this article.