Lawyer jokes and uninformed statements bashing the civil justice system have dogged plaintiff attorneys through many a golf game, PTA meeting, or dinner party.
The “litigation explosion” of frivolous lawsuits is a perception circulated by powerful corporate interests that want to escape accountability for the dangerous products they foist on the public. Government agencies that track civil suits say the number being filed on both the federal and state levels is declining. And a business survey conducted this year by the National Association of Manufacturers ranked lawsuits last among the corporate world’s 10 greatest concerns.
The real problem is the insurance industry gouging policy holders. According to the Los Angeles Times, the industry made a record $44.8 billion profit in 2005 despite Hurricane Katrina claims. Besides boosting profits, the industry raised its surplus by more than 7 percent to nearly $427 billion.
According to the annual statements of the 15 largest companies that handle malpractice insurance, the amount they collected in premiums increased by 120.2 percent between 2000 and 2004, while claims rose by only 5.7 percent. The rate of premium increase was 21 times greater than the rate of increase in claims payments during the same period.
None of that has anything to do with lawsuits and everything to do with the insurance industry stuffing its pockets at the expense of the American public.