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Insurance companies, health care companies, big businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are always whining about consumers, patrons and customers being sue happy and filing frivolous lawsuits that they say mount additional costs on their businesses. They spread all kinds of stories to back up their claims; some of those stories, as we have seen from earlier blog posts, are downright false. What is the answer to the fundamental question though? Who is really sue happy in America?
The National Center for State Courts says that “tort” (personal injury) lawsuits amount to only 5% of incoming lawsuits today. On the other hand, breach of contract lawsuits account for 70% of lawsuits filed. Breach of contract suits are most often debt collection cases, mortgage foreclosures and business against business disputes. The Rand Institute for Civil Justice reports that only 10% of injured people ever file any kind of claim, even an insurance claim submitted without the filing of an actual lawsuit. Only 2% of injured folks actually file a lawsuit. The Rand Institute for Civil Justice says the statistics don’t support the industry claims that we are an overly litigious society of consumers.
In short, industry claims of a sue happy public simply aren’t born out by the facts. Why does the insurance industry want the public to believe that lawsuits are out of control? The real reason is to poison the public mindset so that you will be a good juror for them when you are asked to serve. That means a juror who won’t give an injured party and their attorney a chance to even win your trust. They want to stack the deck now so they don’t have to be held accountable later. The next time you serve on a jury, remember that the case you are hearing is brought by one of the 2% of folks who actually file lawsuits after being injured and that they deserve a chance to win your trust. They deserve their one chance at justice, and you shouldn’t let rhetoric and hyperbole from the insurance industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and big business to deprive them of their constitutional right to a fact based decision by a jury of their peers.