In today's society, the lawsuit is seen as a way to "get rich quick" rather than as a method of creating justice.
Question: How many new lawsuits are brought each year?
It may be difficult to believe, but nearly 20 million new civil lawsuits will be filed this year in the state and federal court systems - about one every 14 seconds.
This means that the odds of an adult American being sued in any one year are close to one in eight. If you are under 40 years old, you can expect at least four lawsuits against you in your lifetime. Add to this the specific dangers of malpractice for physicians, and you can see why litigation is a serious threat to financial security.
We'll try to answer these questions in this article.
Why we sue so often
Why are there so many more lawsuits today than in the past? Partly, we think, because in today's society, the lawsuit is seen as a way to "get rich quick" rather than as a method of creating justice. Our culture seems to have embraced the belief that whenever something goes wrong, someone should pay, regardless of whether anyone was really at fault. Unfortunately, juries have adopted this idea as well. They often disregard the facts of the case and rule on emotion and bias giving away large sums of money in the process.
You read about these spectacular awards every day in the newspapers. A woman receives $2.6 million because her coffee was a few degrees too hot, a homeowner is forced to pay thousands of dollars to a trespasser who was injured while trespassing on the homeowner's property.
Would-be plaintiffs see these same awards and ask, "Why not me?"
They want a piece of the lawsuit payoff. Their first step is to look for a person and a reason to sue. It is only a matter of time until that person and reason becomes you or I.
The excess of lawyers in this country also feeds the lawsuit fire.
For every person with a lawsuit of questionable merit, there is a hungry lawyer ready and willing to file the suit. If you don't believe us, just open your local Yellow Pages or watch daytime television. You will see the many advertisements by lawyers waiting to start a lawsuit for you, even if you cannot pay the lawyer a dime. The lawyer may harass a defendant into a settlement or take a chance on a legal lottery at trial, whichever way he thinks he can get the most fees.
The legal business has grown tremendously in the last 20 years. All these lawyers need ways to make a living, and the lawsuit is a great source of instant income, whether it be defending the suit or prosecuting it. In many areas of the country, there are just too many lawyers. That means each attorney has to go out and "drum up business." Often, this "drumming up" means finding any client willing to sue, whether or not that client's suit is legitimate.
Another factor adding to the explosion of lawsuits is that many people are simply abusing the legal system for their own personal satisfaction.
This trend has gotten so severe in the state of California that the state legislature passed a law called the "Vexatious Litigant Act."
Stopping the madness
This law created a list to which judges throughout the state can add names of people who are abusing the legal system by filing too many lawsuits without merit.