November 29, 2012

Center forJustice & Democracy Releases Tort Litigation Briefing Book

by Levin & Perconti

The Center for Justice & Democracy released another briefing book this week that shared a wealth of helpful and succinct information that has clear relevance to tort reform debates. As virtually everyone knows, for the past few decades many forms of tort litigation, particularly medical malpractice related suits, have come under attack by those seeking to limit the rights of community members.

The key to fighting back is sharing accurate information on the state of the civil justice system. When presented with the truth, most will come to appreciate that these proposed "reform" efforts are nothing more than power grabs by big insurance companies and other big businesses trying to insulate themselves from full legal accountability.

To help in that education effort, the briefing book debunks perhaps the most common myth about these suits. Many claim that there is a problem with too many suits overall and too many frivolous suits specifically. The common line is that the courts are clogged with cases of people suing each other for tort issues and most of those cases are based on unfair and unreasonable claims. Is that true? Not by a longshot.

The truth, as outlined in the brief, is that the vast majority of people who are injured never seek any accountability at all, let alone file a lawsuit. Recent examinations have shown that only about 10% of injured parties seek any sort of action, like insurance claims or informal demands. Then, out of that group, only 1 in 5 ever actually files a lawsuit. That means that only 2% of people injured in various ways, from medical malpractice to car accidents, ever end up with a lawsuit. The percentage of those individuals who actually take the case all the way to trial is incredibly small. In other words, the call for curbing jury rights because of some urgent problem related to rampant juries is flat-out false.

Considering the small number of these cases then, it should be no surprise that suits filed by businesses for contract related problems are far more numerous than personal injury cases or tort litigation concerns. In fact, a study found that taken over a recent ten year period, monetary disputes (mostly contract issues) increased dramatically--a 63% rise. Over the same period, tort litigation actually decreased by 25%.

At the end of the day, business disputes and contract matters are two to three times as common as tort suits. Keep in mind that these business suits are filed by the very same companies that so often argue that tort suits are out of hand. It is an example of obvious hypocrisy when these entities use the civil justice system when their own rights are on the line but are working to prevent regular community members from doing the same.

Hopefully more and more residents take the time to educate themselves on these critical issues. For starters, the entire CJ&D briefing book can be downloaded in .pdf format here. Familiarizing yourself with the basic principles outlined in this short report is a great first step to arming yourself with accurate information related to these litigation issues. The only way to beat back the false claims about these issues is to share the truth. In that way, more community members can make educated decisions about whether or not to support these policies and the candidates who are working to promote them.

Also, it is critical for Illinois residents to know that for the moment their legal rights are secure in our state. If you or someone you know might have been harmed by unreasonable medical care, the law allows residents to seek accountability and present their case to a jury of their peers if necessary. The attorneys at our firm remain proud to help in these efforts. Please take a moment to contact our office to see how we can help.

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