Are Lawsuits Costing Us More Than We Think?

Somewhere in the United States a Lawsuit is Filed Every 10 Seconds of Every Working Hour.

Trial lawyers are robbing decent, honest Americans of their money, trust, freedom and peace of mind. In Ohio, a baseball coach was sued by the parents of a high school player who claimed they were humiliated because their son spent too much time warming the bench. In California, a thief who is stabbed in a bar during a holdup dies…and his family sues the business for operating an unsafe establishment. And we all remember the lady who spilled coffee on herself only to file suit against the restaurant chain that sold it to her moments earlier at a drive-thru window.

These are just a few of the more than five million lawsuits filed in the United States this decade alone.

Few people realize just how much all these lawsuits cost us in the long run. Juries that award outlandish monetary awards push up the cost of goods and services we all buy and use in our everyday life. That’s why many suits settle out of court, because it is cheaper than going to trial and proving a suit has no merit. Even the frivolous suits that are thrown out of court cost us money, since tax dollars are used to pay the court costs that are consumed before a suit gets thrown out.

All in all, each and every one of us in America is paying for a civil justice system that is out of control. In dollar terms, the tab comes to about $1,200 per person per year.

Of course, with more that 60,000 trial lawyers in the country, what would you expect? Especially considering that these lawsuits usually get a third of any amount awarded in a lawsuit.

But the cost to our society may be even higher. America’s courts are being used today to change the way our society functions.

One example: lawsuits have weakened the ability of teachers to impose much needed discipline in the classroom, so now disruptive behavior by one student gets in the way of the education of our children.

Another example: prisoners filing lawsuits from their jail cells force law enforcement agencies to spend time and money that would be better spent fighting crime.

Lawsuits such as these have an economic impact on our society as well, as we all pay for the consequences of a failed education and criminal justice system.

It’s time to make our civil justice system fair and reasonable again…to return to a system that encourages individual responsibility and discourages lawsuit abuse:

1. People should have to pay only for the harm they caused, with the amount paid proportionate to the harm they caused (under the current system, even if you are responsible for only 10 percent of the harm you could be found liable for 100 percent of the compensation);

2. people who compensate for the harm and/or damages they caused (like lost wages, medical bills, and pain-and-suffering) should not also be liable for additional damages meant only as punishment unless they are found to have purposefully caused the injury or were grossly negligent;

3. the legal system should discourage lawsuits that seek money from those who aren’t really to blame (the current system permits suits to target those who have the most money even if they were only remotely involved);

4. if someone is injured, the trial should take place either where the injury happened or someplace logical like where the party lives or where the person or business that caused the injury lives or is headquartered; and

5. junk science should not be brought into courtrooms and introduced as evidence (the current system permits paid “experts” to offer questionable testimony).

What You Can Do to Help.

A lot of us are frustrated with what’s wrong with our government or society. We let our ideals fall prey to our disappointments. We get cynical and disengage from the active role we should have if our democratic society is to function truly to the benefit of everyone.

Just think, though, what difference we can make if everyone who shares our values and beliefs would unite to change things. There really is strength in numbers. So if enough of us get active in the fight for change, we can make a difference.

For instance, our elected representatives rarely hear from average voters. But most of them really do want to hear from you! Legislators face thousands of pieces of legislation every year, and they don’t know which ones are important to their voters and which aren’t. Just one or two phone calls, or one or two letters, is a big deal. It lets your representatives know what you think is important.