The Truth About the Civil Justice System and the Work Trial Attorneys Do

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

In an effort to evade responsibility for negligence and increase their already-bloated bottom line, big corporations and their political friends have engaged in a vicious and dishonest campaign attacking the civil justice system, trial attorneys and those who are injured through no fault of their own.

When corporations and their CEOs act irresponsibly, by delaying or refusing to pay fair and just insurance claims, producing unsafe productions, polluting our environment or swindling their employees and shareholders, the last resort for Americans to hold them accountable is in our courts.

Trial attorneys ensure that ever person can seek justice and hold wrongdoers accountable for negligence on a level playing field in the courtroom, even when up against the most powerful interests.

Trial attorneys are committed to strengthening the civil justice system so deserving individuals can find justice and wrongdoers can be held accountable. Trial attorneys fight vigorously against efforts to weaken basic legal protections and further stack the deck against Americans.

Even before negligence occurs, the civil justice system acts as an important incentive for wrongdoers to act responsibly.

Here are the facts:

There is No “Litigation Explosion”

Tort filings in state courts have declined by 10 percent since 1994. Automobile-related filings, which make up the majority of all tort claims, have fallen by 14 percent since their high in 1996. The same holds true in federal courts. Tort actions in U.S. District Courts dropped by 5 percent over the last ten years (1995-2005). In addition, the percentage of civil filings that are tort actions has declined.

Settlements are Not Excessive

The Bush Administration’s own Department of Justice found that the median inflation-adjusted award in 2001 was just $28,000. Even in medical malpractice cases, in which the injuries tend to be far more serious that the average tort case, the median award was only $170,000 far from the multi-million dollar lottery tort reformers would have you believe.

Juries are not Biased Toward Plaintiffs and Do Not Reward Frivolous Cases

Three decades of research have shown that injuries are not biased toward plaintiffs and that meritless cases rarely win. And contrary to allegations that they can’t understand the intricacies of the law, juries, judges and independent reviewers are in agreement as to verdicts the vast majority of the time. In fact, of the three, juries are the most likely to rule in favor of a defendant.


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