We told you we might be back with another PopTort Pop Quiz, and we weren’t kidding! And now that everyone's back to school ... It’s time for our “Tort Litigation Quiz”!
Let’s set the stage with our first question, shall we? It should help with the rest:
1. What percentage of civil cases are “tort” lawsuits?
a. Less than 10%
d. More than 75%
The answer is “a”, and the number is just 7%. Or to put it another way, 93% of civil cases have nothing whatsoever to do with personal injuries. So who exactly is “sue-happy” in America? You’ll find out soon!
Bonus question: Which of the above percentages represents the number of civil cases involving contracts and small claims cases?
That would be: “d.” Actually, it’s 80%. See question #2 to understand what kinds of cases we're talking about.
Explains the National Center for State Court (NCSC), “The picture of contemporary litigation that emerges … is very different from the one suggested in debates about the contemporary civil justice system. State court caseloads are dominated by lower-value contract and small claims cases rather than high-value commercial and tort cases.”
2. What types of lawsuits constitute most of these “contract” cases that are flooding the courts? Are they:
a. Consumers suing banks?
b. Consumers suing credit card companies?
c. Consumers suing health insurance companies?
d. None of the above
The answer, of course, is “d.” Consumers aren’t suing much at all - for anything. They’re the ones being sued.
According to NCSC, contract caseloads consist “primarily of debt collection (37%), landlord/tenant (29%), and foreclosure (17%) cases.” Moreover, says NCSC, from 2005 to 2010, “contract caseloads increased 52 percent (10.5% per annum), much of it occurring in 2008 with the onset of the recession.” (emphasis added.) In addition, “[l]ong-term NCSC data show a 63 percent increase in contract litigation in 13 states from 1999 to 2008. In contrast, tort filings fell by 25 percent in those same states during the same ten-year period.”
So who’s sue-happy in America? That would be banks and lenders, that’s who.
Back to torts.
3. What percentage of tort cases are decided by judges or juries?
The answer is “d.” Says NCSC, “Only 15 percent of tort cases were disposed by judgment.”
4. What percentage of the civil caseload is made up of those high-profile medical malpractice or products liability cases?
a. Less than 1%
The answer is “a.” Says NCSC, “Although medical malpractice and product liability cases often generate a great deal of attention and criticism, they comprise…less than 1% of the total civil caseload....”
But what about the ones that do reach a jury? Aren’t jury verdicts huge? Let’s find out.
5. Seventy-five percent of tort judgments are:
a. Less than $5 million
b. Less than $1 million
c. Less than $100,000
d. Less than $20,000
e. None of the above
f. All of the above
You guessed it. The answer is “f”, all of the above! Seventy-five percent of tort judgments are less than $12,200! And as to juries specifically, NCSC found that “50 percent of jury awards in tort cases were $30,000 or less, and 75 percent of jury awards in tort cases were less than $152,000. Jury awards exceeded $500,000 in only 17 cases (3% of cases in which judgment exceeded zero), and exceeded $1 million in only 13 cases (2%).”
For more great stuff, get the Center for Justice & Democracy’s new briefing book, Tort Litigation: By the Numbers.
And if you are interested in medical malpractice statistics, you can find those in our continuously updated Medical Malpractice Briefing Book: By the Numbers.
So study up. You know we’ll be back.