Since insurance companies inundate our society with statements about "litigation
crisis," "frivolous" lawsuits, and "jackpot justice",
many people believe that personal injury lawsuits are filed altogether
too many times. They think that many punitive damages are being awarded,
which in turn lead to increased insurance rates. Seeing this progression,
they then blame the civil justice system for this problem. Before we put
the civil system at fault, however; we should take a look at the facts.
In 2008 the National Center for State Courts reported that tort cases [where
one party sues another for a civil wrong that doesn't stem from a
contract] represented only 4.4% of all filings in the reporting states.
A whopping 73% of all lawsuits filed were small claims and breach of contract
cases. In fact, many of the breach of contract cases were actually businesses
suing other businesses.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a party for extreme wrongdoing and
are not tied to actual damages, which are typically for things like out
of pocket expenses, medical bills, and pain and suffering. The State Court
study found that punitive damages were only awarded in 3% of all tort
cases but were awarded in 8% of contract cases, which are much more likely
to be between two businesses. This means that punitive damages are often
sought (and more often awarded) to the same companies that complain about
When contract cases outnumber tort cases more than fifteen fold, it becomes
clear that any "litigation crisis" is not due to personal injury
cases. For more information about personal injury lawsuits, please contact
Palmer Law Group LLP for trustworthy representation!