Claims of Lawsuit Abuse Are Not Backed Up by the Facts


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To hear some critics tell it, Illinois is overrun with too many lawsuits. Travis Akin, of the group Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW), claims that “jackpot justice” has turned the Illinois courts into a “judicial hellhole.”

Of course, the lawsuits that these critics are so upset about are the ones where ordinary people sue big corporations and insurance companies, in order to get some compensation for harm they have suffered. 

Akin's organization is funded by big oil, tobacco, pharmaceutical and insurance companies. These corporations are incredibly profitable, and they hate to part with those profits, even if it is to compensate someone who is injured by their negligence. So it is in their interests to promote the idea that lawsuits are out of control.

However, the facts tell a different story.

The number of lawsuits filed in Illinois is actually declining steadily, with the total number down 26 percent since 2007. More than 70 percent of all lawsuits are filed by businesses suing each other. Personal injury lawsuits account for just six percent of all lawsuits filed.

Groups like I-LAW claim that the risk of lawsuits hinders small businesses and hurts the economy. In reality, lawsuits are not a great concern for small businesses, nor should they be. In a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, lawsuits were rated 71st out of 75 different concerns of small businesses.

The myth of lawsuit abuse is told and retold as part of an effort to restrict people's constitutional rights. When people suffer injuries as the result of another's negligence, they have the right to sue for compensation. Negligent drivers, medical professionals, manufacturers and polluters need to be held accountable when they cause harm. If these wealthy interests are concerned about payouts for injury claims, they should take real action to increase safety, so that fewer people are injured.

In reality, there is no “lawsuit abuse” problem. Truly frivolous lawsuits are rare, and they do not succeed. Our legal system ensures that defendants have every opportunity to oppose any personal injury claims made against them. When a corporation is made to pay, it is because its negligence caused harm. That is not abuse; it is justice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Greenberg
Paul Greenberg is the co-managing member of the law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, where he represents injured individuals in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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