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Tort Reform vs. Facts

Reuland Law, LLC focuses on personal injury and wrongful death cases. The idea of so-called tort reform comes up often when insurance company employees, defense attorneys, and even potential jurors regurgitate bullet points from tort reform advocacy groups. These groups try to convince people with foreboding predictions that tort cases must be limited. Tort reform advocate want people’s damages to be capped by the government rather than decided on a case-by-case basis by citizens and juries.


The truth is, tort reform efforts undermine the rights of normal citizens who have been harmed by negligent behavior and careless corporations. A recent report titled "How Low Can They Go? State Civil Tort, Med Mal, Products Caseloads, and Jury Trials" by the Center for Justice & Democracy sheds light on the actual situation. The report provides data from state courts that ultimately rebuffs the common narratives perpetuated by tort reform proponents.




Misconception 1: More and more people are filing frivolous lawsuits.


Tort reform advocates frequently paint a picture of a legal system inundated with frivolous lawsuits. A flood of lawsuits is driving up costs for businesses, right? Actually, insurance companies are the ones raising prices. And civil tort caseloads are declining, not growing. Rather than overwhelming the legal system, cases about negligent business or people make up a small fraction of lawsuits filed each year. Personal injury lawsuits like the cases Reuland Law, LLC, brings fall under the category of tort law, and tort cases make up about 6% of state court civil dockets. By contrast, contract cases (e.g. a business suing another business) constitute about 44% of state court civil dockets. Businesses and people arguing over a contract dispute are about 7 times more litigious than peoples who were injured or killed by someone being unsafe.

 

Misconception 2: Medical Malpractice Litigation is In Crisis


One of the cornerstones of tort reform is the alleged medical malpractice crisis. The report from the Center for Justice & Democracy examines medical malpractice caseloads across states and finds that the numbers don't support the notion of an unmanageable surge in lawsuits against healthcare providers. Tort reform advocates ignore the facts, like how medical malpractice cases composed anywhere from 0.02 to 0.56 percent of state court civil caseloads in 2022. In other words, on the high end, medical malpractice cases take up less than 1% of court dockets. If there is any "crisis" we are facing, it is with unsafe medical care and the barriers to justice that patients and families face when bad doctors, nurses, and hospital systems hurt people.


Misconception 3: Impact on Jury Trials


Tort reform advocates target juries, sometimes claiming that jury trials are inefficient and too unpredictable. Through aggressive lobbying in Washington and elsewhere, tort reformers try to diminish the constitutional right to a jury trial. Unfortunately, they may be winning. The report suggests that jury trials in civil cases have been on the decline. Moreover, forced arbitrations in lieu of jury trial are pervasive, and a business often gets to choose the forum for arbitration and who actually decides each dispute.  Forced arbitration is an afront to our right to a jury. We have a civic duty to protect our constitutional rights, including the right to a jury.





The data summarized in the Center for Justice & Democracy's report provides further evidence that tort reform efforts are often fear-based campaigns to benefit insurance companies and negligent businesses. Facts and data reveal that lawsuits are not out of control in state courts, and many of these facts are summarized by this study. By making decisions and forming opinions based on data, not fear mongering, we can foster a more informed discussion about civic duties and our judicial system.


Reuland Law, LLC continues to be a proud advocate on behalf of people and families injured or killed by the negligent of others. Tort reform advocates want to make it harder for people and families to make a recovery. Reuland Law fights against this.


You can read the full report from the Center for Justice & Democracy here. You can contact Reuland Law, LLC here.


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