Lawsuit Myths Debunked

Insurance companies have spent millions of dollars to generate myths about how lawsuits are out of control and responsible for all of America’s ills. The facts tell a much different story.

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.

According to the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, the number of federal tort cases resolved in U.S. District Courts fell by 79 percent between 1985 and 2003. In 1985, 3,600 tort trials were decided by a judge or jury in U.S. District Courts. By 2003, that number had dropped to less than 800.1

Additionally, the most recent statistics from the Administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics show the number of tort trials at the state level has decreased. These statistics were compiled as part of the Bureau’s survey of state civil justice systems in the nation’s largest 75 counties. Among these counties, the number of tort trials decreased 31.8 percent between 1992 and 2001. 2

1. “Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 2002-03”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 8/17/05

2. “Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4/04

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