Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week Highlights Economic Harm of Frivolous Litigation
Oct. 1, 2018 (WASHINGTON) – Today marks the start of Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week: a week dedicated to putting a spotlight on the abusive lawsuits that clog courtrooms across the […]
Oct. 1, 2018 (WASHINGTON) – Today marks the start of Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week: a week dedicated to putting a spotlight on the abusive lawsuits that clog courtrooms across the country.
While there are the seemingly silly lawsuits, such as those when an individual claims his or her bag of chips had too much air in it, the reality is that lawsuit abuse is a problem for all Americans.
An out-of-balance medical liability system drives up costs and leads health care providers, particularly high-risk specialists, to choose to locate their practices in areas with balanced legal systems. This has led to shortages of healthcare providers, especially in vulnerable and rural communities. A report by the American Medical Association (AMA) states that for some physicians in certain states, their liability premiums can exceed $200,000 per year, compared to states with reform statutes who might have premiums closer to $50,000 per year. In addition, fear of excessive liability can lead to the practice of “defensive medicine” – the ordering of tests and procedures due to the fear of possible claims, not because of medical necessity. The AMA report also stated that nearly 50 percent of OB-GYNs have altered their practices due to fear of litigation.
Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week focuses on personal responsibility and reminds citizens across the country of the pivotal role they play in ending lawsuit abuse and ensuring U.S. courts are used for justice – not greed.
Class action lawsuits are also a major litigation problem. Personal injury lawyers actively seek out plaintiffs who can be lumped together, promising them sizeable compensation, and then, when it’s all said and done, the members of the class often receive some sort of coupon as compensation, while the lawyers walk away with millions of dollars.
Small businesses can be the victims of lawsuit abuse as well. Trial lawyers often target a small business that might have a trivial compliance issue under the Americans with Disabilities Act – perhaps by having a rail an inch too high, or a sidewalk a few degrees from the proper angle. Instead of focusing on fixing the minor issue, these attorneys will threaten to take the businesses to court, only to drop the claim in exchange for a settlement.
Lawsuit abuse does not come without a cost. A 2011 study found the cost of the tort system in the United States, where these frivolous lawsuits take place, to be $264 billion. That equates to $857 per person, or $3,428 for a family of four. This week during Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, citizens across the country will engage in a social media campaign to promote the end of these types of lawsuit abuses.
About the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA): Founded in 1986, ATRA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with affiliated coalitions in more than 40 states. It is the nation’s only organization dedicated exclusively to reforming the civil justice system through education and legislative enactment, and acts as a nationwide network of state-based liability reform coalitions backed by 135,000 grassroots supporters. ATRA works to bring greater fairness, predictability and efficiency to America’s civil justice system. Those efforts have resulted in the enactment of state and federal laws that make the system fairer for everyone.
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