We the Plaintiffs


We the Plaintiffs: A Closer Look at America’s Obsession with Lawsuits

15 million civil cases are filed annually in the United States.
We the Plaintiffs

The National Cost Of Lawsuits
2.2% of the U.S.’s GDP went to tort costs; this totaled up to $251 B in 2003.
In comparison, .7% of France’s GDP went to tort costs; this totaled up to $13 B in 2003.
See the full graph on our infographic.

Americans spend more on civil litigation that any other industrialized country: twice as much as what is spent on new cars! In other legal systems, the loser must pay a large portion of the winner’s legal fees. In America, each party pays its own fees, giving people less of an incentive to be cautious about lawsuits.

Tort Costs Have Risen
Even with an adjustment for inflation, the cost per capita in 1950 was $106, and in 2009, it was $808.

State Ranking For Number Of Torts
A tort is a wrongful personal injury that merits legal compensation. Many lawsuits brought by individuals fall under tort law.

California, Montana, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have the highest tort liability rankings.
Congrats to Alaska and Hawaii, for having the two lowest tort liabilities.
See the full map on our infographic.

Frivolous Lawsuits
A frivolous lawsuit is a suit that the litigant has very low chances of winning.

The Guide-Dog Debacle
A Florida minister and his wife sued a guide-dog school after a blind man being led by one of the dogs stepped on the woman’s toe in a mall. They sought $160,000 as compensation, but due to national ridicule, the suit never made it to court.

The Beer Brouhaha
After Budweiser ran an ad series that featured beautiful women materializing in front of beer drinkers, a man in Michigan sued the company for false advertising when his own beer did not produce the same result. The suit was dismissed.

The “Clapper” Caper
A court in New York rejected a woman’s lawsuit against the company that makes a device called “The Clapper”, which uses the sound of a clap to activate appliances. She claimed that her hands were injured by having to clap too hard.

The Toilet Tumult
A California man made an unsuccessful attempt to sue a stadium for $5.4 millon when he went to a concert and attempted to use the unisex bathrooms. He felt too uncomfortable to do so when he saw that women were also using them.

The Robber Ruckus
A man in Illinois broke into a bar where the owner had recently set a trap around his windows to deter burglars. The would-be robber ignored the large warning sign, set off the trap, and was electrocuted. His family filed a suit and won.

Unfortunately, in 2010 alone, $1.6 billion was spent on settling frivolous lawsuits outside of court.

In a recent U.S. survey, just 16% of people said they trusted the legal system to protect them from frivolous lawsuits. 83% of people feel that the legal system has made it too easy to make invalid claims. 56% think that there are fundamental changes needed to make the civil justice system work.

The Number Of Lawyers In The U.S.
There are 80 lawyers out of every 10,000 residents in New York. On the other end of the spectrum, there are 20 lawyers out of every 10,000 residents in Arizona.
See the full graph on our infographic.

80% of the world’s lawyers live in the United States.

Who We Sue: Individual Lawsuits
Although the majority of lawsuits target other individuals, the majority of money awarded comes from suits against organizations.
See the full visualization on our infographic.

The plaintiff wins 55% of all tort trials in the United States.

Lawsuit Awards For 2010
Asbestos claims made the most money on average-$682,000
Automobile claims made the least money on average-$15,000

Risk Of Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical malpractice lawsuits are uncommon. Only 25% of them succeed, but the payout is much higher than in other types of suits.
Neurosurgery has the highest risk of being sued; Internal Medicine has the lowest risk.
See the chart on our infographic.

Less than 15 cents of every dollar for the cost of a tort goes to compensation for the litigant. Especially with the news-grabbing headlines about frivolous lawsuits coming up every day, it’s easy to blame the plaintiffs for the problems with our sue-happy nation. But the root of the issue goes deeper−down to the law system itself.

Lawyers Per Capita by State (2010 Edition)
Clapper lawsuit does not end well