TORT REFORM FACT V. FICTION (PART 2)
FICTION: Lawyers attempt to get ridiculous verdicts that drastically outweigh actual damages.
FACT: Corporations and insurance companies have been conducting a crusade for the past 50 years to depict injured victims as greedy liars with dollar signs in their eyes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the 2005 median award for plaintiffs who won monetary damages in civil trials was $28,000.00; only 4 percent of all plaintiffs’ awards were more than one million dollars or more.
Tort reform advocates also argue against punitive damages. Punitive damages serve as a sanction for behavior that is judged to be particularly reckless. Big business has spread the myth that juries are handing out multimillion-dollar awards left and right. Punitive damages are not awarded as frequently as the tort reform advocates claim. The Bureau of Justice found punitive damages were awarded to only 5 percent of all plaintiffs in civil trials. The Supreme Court also found that:
1. Punitive damages have not increased in the past several decades with the exception of adjustments for inflation.
2. The amounts of punitive damages rendered by juries and judges are similar.
Most punitive damages are awarded in lawsuits that involve businesses suing other businesses. This fact makes it seem as if businesses are fine with punitive damages as long as they are the plaintiffs.
FICTION: Greedy plaintiffs and their attorneys abuse our judicial system by taking cases to courts that are likely to give them the verdict they want even if their case has nothing to do with that jurisdiction.
FACT: The goal of venue reform is to bog down cases in local courts. The insurance companies are betting that injury plaintiffs don’t have the time or resources to wage a lengthy legal fight. They rightly assume that victims are more likely to settle for less than they deserve to avoid years of potential litigation. Small settlements translate to less justice for victims and more profits for corporate interests.
Smaller court systems have faced budget cuts and a backlog of cases. Some plaintiffs have sought relief in larger court systems. Larger court systems have several advantages over smaller, local ones including: 1) expertise to hear these complex cases; and 2) they have the resources to handle litigation in a timely and efficient manner.
If you are injured, don’t allow anyone to convince you that you are just being greedy. Allow Attorney Douglas V. Stoehr or Attorney Aaron Ling to evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case to determine if a valid claim exists. We will provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your claim. Call us at (814) 946-4100.