Civil lawsuits have been on the decline for decades, but 87 percent of voters still believe there are “too many lawsuits” filed in the United States. In 1993, 10 in 1,000 Americans filed a civil lawsuit. Since then, that number has shrunk to fewer than 2 in 1,000 (as of 2015). Statistics show that people are filing fewer lawsuits—but why is that? It likely has more to do with the millions of dollars the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the insurance industry have spent on a smear campaign against lawsuits and the people who file them.
The Truth Behind the Hot Coffee Lawsuit
You might have heard some of these half-truths and embellished stories yourself. Have you heard about the woman who sued McDonald’s for spilling hot coffee on herself? Her story gets told as a joke, a warning against the sort of “frivolous lawsuits” that people without common sense would file.
What people don’t often know is that the woman was in her 80s, that her coffee was heated beyond the boiling point, that her coffee left her with third-degree burns all over her thighs and groin, and that she only filed a lawsuit because McDonald’s refused to pay a few thousand dollars for her medical expenses.
The truth is, the civil justice system is the only way for people to keep each other legally accountable. It’s the only way for people to make corporations answer for harmful practices or products. Even if you never file a lawsuit, it’s in all our best interests to keep civil justice an active and healthy part of our legal system.
Lawsuits Help Us Keep the World a Safer Place
In the 1960s, General Motors knew their cars were designed such that fuel tanks could explode or catch fire in rear-end accidents. They could have fixed the problem for $8.40 per car. Why didn’t they? Because someone at GM did the math and found out that it was just cheaper to pay for fatal accidents. Rather than make their cars safer, GM knowingly endangered their customers because it cost them less per car.
We only know the truth because people sued GM after their cars caught fire, and those lawsuits forced GM to admit the truth. The company was then forced to fix the problem in their cars. Neither Congress nor the President nor the police nor the market forced General Motors to make a safer car; people did. Plaintiffs did.
The below video explains more about why civil justice is critical for life in a responsible society:
If you or someone you know have suffered harm at the hands of an individual or company, we encourage you to take the next step and discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer. Call (888) 498-3023 today.