Lawsuit Crisis? Not Even Close

Despite the constant proclamations from pundits on talk radio, the evening news, and the Web that the number of lawsuits is skyrocketing, it simply is not true.  There is no lawsuit crisis in this country.  In fact, the real numbers paint a far different picture than what we have been led to believe.

According to information cited by the American Association for Justice, the number of personal injury cases filed in state courts during the years 1998-2007 dropped by 24 percent.  And the downward trends don’t stop at the state level.  At the federal level, between 1985 and 2003, civil litigation filings in U.S. District Courts declined by 79 percent, dropping from 3,604 in 1985 to fewer than 800 in 2003.

Further dispelling the notion of a lawsuit crisis, the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates the median awards from tort trials in state courts in the nation’s 75 largest counties fell 18.4 percent between 1996 and 2005.  In addition, as of 2005, the median jury trial award was just $24,000.

If you think West Virginia is different, think again.  The most recent available statistics reported by the National Center for State Courts ranks West Virginia 37th among the State in terms of new civil litigation cases filed per capita.

Bottom line – our civil justice system is working, helping to hold Wall Street, drug companies, corporations and insurance companies accountable for their actions.