Article From: Illinois Trail Lawyers
Contrary to popular myth, few injured Americans ever file a lawsuit. According to Rand Institute for Civil Justice, only 10% of those injured ever file a claim for compensation and only 2% file lawsuits.
The notion of frivolous lawsuits clogging our courts is a myth. Most cases are in fact contract case filings (businesses suing businesses or debt collections). Long-term National Center for State Courts (NCSC) data show a 63 percent increase in contract litigation in 13 states from 1999 to 2008. In contrast, tort filings fell by 25 percent in those same states during the same ten-year period.
Did you know that most tort cases are settled before ever going to trial? In 2005, approximately 3.5 percent of tort cases were resolved through bench (i.e., judge) or jury trial in 104 jurisdictions reporting. As the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) stated in an October 2011 report, “Few civil cases are actually tried, as most are settled by mutual agreement outside the court system.”
Despite splashy headlines of jackpot justice, most plaintiffs who win in tort cases only receive modest awards. In a 2005 national sample of state courts of general jurisdiction, half of plaintiff winners in tort trials were awarded $24,000 or less in damages.
Our civil justice system works to reign in excessive awards. High jury verdicts are frequently reduced after trial. According to DOJ, in 2005, compensatory damages awarded to plaintiff winners were reduced in 15 percent of tort trials, with such awards being reduced by 40 percent on average.