Tort Reform and Civil Justice System (Talking Points for People Who Care)

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The American Association for Justice

Myth: The number of lawsuits filed is skyrocketing- The number of tort (personal injury) cases has been declining for years. According to the National Center for State Courts, tort cases accounted for just 4.4 percent of all civil cases filed in 2008, and declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008. Tort filings in state courts decreased by six percent between 2007 and 2008. More details here

Myth: Health care costs are rising and doctors are unable to practice due to litigation- Health care costs are rising; however, medical malpractice litigation has nothing to do with it.

Myth: Legal reform is needed because lawsuits hurt small businesses- Wrong. Multiple surveys have shown that lawsuits are not a concern for small business owners.

Myth: Trial attorneys are trying to drive corporations out of business– Absolutely not. Corporations, large and small, are all entitled to have profitable businesses. Most do so without being negligent or engaging in misconduct.

Myth: Lawsuits are out of control. Someone even sued because they spilled hot coffee on their lap! Those looking to destroy the civil justice have continually mocked Stella Liebeck and the McDonald’s coffee case. Unfortunately, the actual facts of this case make it no laughing matter.

Myth: Trial attorneys are charging outrageous hourly fees and leave victims with nothing if they win– Civil justice attorneys do not charge by the hour like most other attorneys. Instead, their clients pay on what is called a “contingency fee basis.”

Myth: My insurance rates are skyrocketing because of lawsuits– Your insurance premiums may be going up, but it has nothing to do with lawsuits. Look no further than the insurance industry’s annual profit reporting.

Myth: Lawsuits cost taxpayers X hundreds of dollars each year– Several so-called “independent” think tanks or organizations have devised the notion that American families pay a yearly “tort tax,” or that the cost of litigation is passed on to taxpayers. These organizations, funded by oil, drug, tobacco, and insurance companies, produce studies that are a prime example of junk science.

Other Talking Points

The Civil Justice System keeps you safer. Here are several cases that have made a difference.

Research and examples of how our civil justice system works.

Why We Need the Civil Justice System.

Issue Resources

Medical Malpractice– According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 people every year at a cost of $29 billion. If the Centers for Disease Control classified medical errors as a category it would be the sixth leading cause of death, killing more people annually than auto accidents or guns.

Consumer Rights– American consumers are vulnerable to injury or death from dangerous and defective products every day

Regulation and the Courts– AAJ works to strengthen the civil justice system by protecting Americans’ basic legal rights and holding negligent corporations accountable.

License to Steal: How the U.S. Chamber Forced Arbitration on America

Truck Safety Alert: Rising Danger from Trucks and How to Stop It

Unequal Harm: The Disproportionate Damage to Women from Dangerous Drugs and Medical Devices

Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans

Do As I Say, Not As I Sue: Exposing the Lawsuit-Happy Hypocrites of U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform

Medical Negligence: The Role of America’s Civil Justice System in Protecting Patients’ Rights

Playing with Safety: Dangerous Toys and the Role of America’s Civil Justice System

The Chamber Litigation Machine: How the Chamber Uses Lawsuits to Keep Americans Out of Court

Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans

Hazardous to Your Health: How the Civil Justice System Holds Corporate Polluters Accountable

ALEC: Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America

Driven to Safety: How Litigation Spurred Auto Safety Innovations

They Knew and Failed To (Manufactures know their product is dangerous)

Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse

Get Out of Jail Free: An Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability

The Ten Worst Insurance Companies In America

Pattern of Greed 2007 (Hurricane Katrina)

Pattern of Greed 2006 (Hurricane Katrina)

How the Civil Justice System has helped make America safer

The Face of MICRA

Constitutionality of MICRA damage caps argued in Court of Appeal

Medical Board inaction, MICRA cap combine to leave Californians’ safety in question

Justice Denied

New film explores pro-corporate bias of U.S. Supreme Court

Are doctors really fleeing New York because of malpractice costs?

A look at the claim that raising the MICRA cap would add $10 BILLION a year to California health care costs

How the MICRA cap violates Californians’ rights to equal protection, jury trial and due process

New film explores pro-corporate bias of U.S. Supreme Court (video)

38 is Too Late (California MICRA law and cases)

Consumer Attorneys of California CAOC

Myth: “Litigation happy” trial lawyers are clogging the courts with “frivolous” lawsuits.

Reality: In California, the number of civil lawsuits has plummeted by more than 30% during the past decade. The same goes nationwide: The Department of Justice performed a study of civil trials in state courts and found that the number of civil trials dropped by 47% between 1992 and 2001.

Myth: “Runaway jurors” in “judicial hellholes” are awarding excessive damages.

Reality: Data released by the Justice Department’s BJS shows that in state courts, the median jury verdict in all tort suits was $37,000 in 2001 – down from $65,000 in 1992.

Myth: “Jackpot justice” is responsible for a spike in insurance premiums.

Reality: Studies show that states that have enacted tort reform legislation have actually seen a 48.2% increase in insurance premiums (Weiss Ratings Inc.). In fact ATRA’s President, Sherman Joyce, stated “We wouldn’t tell you or anyone that the reason to pass tort reform would be to reduce insurance rates.”

Jackson and Wilson Blog Posts

“Hot Coffee” The Movie (The Truth About the McDonald’s Hot Coffee Burn Case)

How Trial Lawyers Help and Protect American Consumers (movies)

Bad Insurance Companies- Recognize anyone on the list?

The Ugly Truth About How Insurance Companies Settle Claims

How Insurance Defense Attorneys Try to Deprive You of Your Legal Rights

How Insurance Companies Really Treat Disaster Victims

ALLIGATORS, CLAIMS ADJUSTERS AND MARSHMALLOWS- The truth about insurance companies

Be Careful When Dealing With Insurance Companies

Our “Top 10″ Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Give a Sworn Statement to the Other Side’s Insurance Company

Be Careful! The Ugly Truth Behind How Insurance Companies Settle Cases

Insurance Bad Faith- We Hear and See These Stories Every Day

RABBITS AND LIONS- Why most people need an EXPERIENCED lawyer when taking on big insurance companies

Excellent Articles, Posts, and Talking Points from Fellow Consumer Attorneys

Tina Willis– Florida Consumer Lawyer

Florida Supreme Court Rejects Caps On Non-Economic Damages In Wrongful Death Medical Malpractices Cases.

Ugly Truth: Insurance Companies Want To Keep Their Money At Your Expense

Underpaying Auto Accident Claims = Billions in Profit

From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves

McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case: What Were The Real Facts? And Do They Support Tort Reform?

Stephan Futeral (South Carolina Consumer Lawyer)

An Amendment to Ethically Permit Doctors to Refuse to Treat Plaintiff’s Lawyers and Their Families

Steven Sweat– (California Consumer Lawyer)

Why “Tort Reform” Is Not Supported By Either Liberal or Conservative Values

Steven Gursten (Michigan Consumer Lawyer)

Michigan’s Medical Malpractice Tort Reform “The Juice Isn’t Worth the Squeeze” (shared by Mr. Gursten)


“The social purpose of Tort Law is accident and injury prevention. It is only when we fail in our initial purpose that we move to the secondary purpose, compensation for the injured person.”

“The quest for Social Justice is not a cause, it is the basic element of life. Those who yield to the tyranny of a superior sovereign, and fail to stand for that which is right and just today, are doomed to suffer tomorrow as the horror of their inaction bears fruit.”

“The wisdom of our ages and the blood of our heroes has been devoted to the attainment of trial by jury. It should be the creed of our political faith.” -Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address 1801

“…trial by jury…the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution….” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Tom Paine, 1789

Please share this information and talking points with your clients, friends and on social media!

Serving The Injured
For Over 30 Years

Our Orange County personal injury lawyers have a long history of helping the injured. Since we opened our doors in 1986, we have negotiated and litigated to secure the best possible results for every client. Our hard work resulted in considerable recoveries, including a number of multi-million dollar settlements and awards – the type of compensation that truly makes an impact as you work to rebuild and move on with your life. We are prepared to put our experience to work for you.

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