Debunking Myths about Personal Injury Law
Big business has lobbied hard to spread myths that plaintiffs’ lawsuits are rampant and trial lawyers are ruining the economy. Recent investigative journalism reports that personal injury litigation is not really a problem, but to the contrary, cases that reach a jury are worthwhile and deserving of justice in the courts.
Three prevalent legal myths are:
1) the courts are inundated with frivolous lawsuits,
2) jury verdicts are driven by impassioned trial lawyers not based upon common sense or reason,
3) lawsuits are driving up the cost of malpractice insurance.
These widely held misconceptions about personal injury law are dispelled by recent news articles or videos from national news sources:
“Mr. Fancy Pants,” Target Television, July 11, 2007
An in-depth short film that looks into the realities of the American Civil Justice System and frivolous lawsuit myths.
“Minor Crash, Minor Cash,” CNN Anderson Cooper 360, February 7, 2007 A CNN news report on an 18-month investigation of insurance companies refusing to fairly compensate people for injuries suffered in minor impact auto accidents.
“Dept. of Justice Reports Tort Trials Down Dramatically,” ATLA e-News, February 1, 2006 Even though the judicial branch of the United States has stated there is a dramatic decline in federal lawsuits, the executive branch is seeking legislation to limit injured plaintiffs’ rights and access to the courts.
“Calculating Malpractice Claims,” Washington Post, December 29, 2005 Studies show that contrary to what the medical industry lobbyists tell us, malpractice claims are set based upon what the market will pay not on claims history. This refutes arguments in favor of tort reform that there is a liability insurance crisis.
“Federal Trials Decline for Injury Lawsuits,” Washington Post, August 18, 2005 Federal personal injury trials are down 80% since 1985 which could hardly be called a crisis requiring tort reform. Defendants and insurance companies are paying claims which is evidence the cases are not frivolous.
“Coverage of Big Awards for Plaintiffs Helps Distort View of Legal System,” LA Times, August 15, 2005. Media coverage of major jury verdicts helps perpetuate the myth of a legal system run amok by trial lawyers. The problem is there is no follow-up about how the verdicts are reduced or over-turned on appeal. Also, newspapers are 12x more likely to report a plaintiff victory than a defense defeat, which skews the public perception of crisis in the courts.
“Study Says Malpractice Payouts Aren’t Rising,” New York Times, July 7, 2005 Malpractice premium payouts have not changed in 5 years but premiums have risen 120% over the same period of time which has made selling medical malpractice insurance phenomenally profitable.
“Federal Judges Don’t See Problem With Frivolous Suits,” BusinessInsurance.com, April 11, 2005 A survey of federal court judges shows the majority do not see any reason to enact proposed changes to civil procedures to sanction frivolous suits because there is no problem with frivolous lawsuits.
Without trial lawyers, ordinary citizens would be victimized and suffer more losses by defective products, medical malpractice, civil rights violations and ruthless insurance companies. The Center for Justice and Democracy has prepared a 30 second infomercial with a very compelling message: “trial lawyers are the last line of justice.”