So-called tort reformers have undertaken a campaign of misinformation in their efforts to restrict access to the civil justice system. Unfortunately, their efforts have been successful in many areas of the United States resulting in caps on awards and settlements, changes in deadlines to file personal injury lawsuits, and elimination of certain types of damages.
Although this has not happened in New York, tort reformers are working hard to limit the people’s right to obtain justice after they were hurt because of another’s negligence. What follows is a list of the most frequently-told lies about the state of the civil justice system – lies that New Yorkers should look out for when deciding whether tort reform will really help them.
Lie #1: There is a growing number of personal injury lawsuits in the United States that is clogging up the justice system.
The truth: The number of personal injury lawsuits or tort cases has been declining for decades. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) reports that tort cases declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008. And tort cases make up only five percent of civil cases, so the claim that such cases burden our court system doesn’t add up.
Lie #2: Winning a lawsuit is akin to winning the lottery, with many plaintiffs receiving overly generous awards.
The truth: Most personal injury awards are modest, with the average award amount being around $31,000. And, despite the assertions of tort reformers, award amounts are actually going down, not up, according to the Department of Justice.
Read about other myths about the need for tort reform in oiur next blog post.
Source: Take Justice Back, Facts v. Fiction.