TORT LAW FAQs

Myth: A National Business Association has been touting a “1000 percent increase in class action suits both nationally and statewide.” 
Fact: Contract and property cases -- most of which involve businesses -- comprise more than one-third of all civil cases in state courts. Domestic relations cases were the next most frequent type of proceeding, representing nearly 25 percent of all civil cases. By comparison, product liability cases accounted for only 0.21 percent of all civil cases. (National Center for State Courts, 1995).


Myth: Consumer class action and frivolous lawsuits are clogging up the federal court system. 
Fact: Businesses suing each other over contracts comprised nearly half of all federal court cases filed between 1985 and 1991. (The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1993.)

Myth: Insurance rates are lower in states where they have tort law limits. 
Fact: States with little or no tort law restrictions have experienced approximately the same changes in insurance rates as those states that have restrictions for “victims’ rights.” (Study by the Center for Justice & Democracy, 1999)

Myth: Punitive damages are driving insurers to drop doctors and hospitals with OB/GYN practices. 
Fact: Business cases account for 47 percent of all punitive damage awards. In contrast, only 4.4 percent and 2 percent of punitive damage awards are due to product liability and medical malpractice cases, respectively. (Rand Institute for Civil Justice, 1996).
Fact: Medical malpractice is the most profitable line of insurance written nationwide. (Association of Trial Lawyers of America).

Myth: Tort reform would help keep America’s businesses on track and out of bankruptcy from outrageous jury awards
Fact: Automobile and premise liability suits represented over 75 percent (60 and 17 percent, respectively) of the 378,000 tort cases completed in state courts in the nation’s largest 75 counties in fiscal year 1992. Medical malpractice and products liability suits made up just 8 percent (5 and 3 percent, respectively) of these cases. (Department of Justice Study, 1995).

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