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Contrary to the continuous drumbeat of fear-based messaging from big insurance and wealthy corporations about an “abusive litigation environment,” the Wall Street Journal reports Americans are filing fewer tort lawsuits.

Yes, the number of tort lawsuits filed in the nation has plummeted.  According to the story written by reporter Joe Palazzolo:

“Fewer than two in 1,000 people—the alleged victims of inattentive motorists, medical malpractice, faulty products and other civil wrongs—filed tort lawsuits in 2015, an analysis of the latest available data collected by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) shows. That is down sharply from 1993, when about 10 in 1,000 Americans filed such suits.”

Other data quoted from the NCSC shows:

  • Tort lawsuits now account for less than 5% of all civil filings in state courts.


  • Contract cases, including those filed by corporate plaintiffs such as debt collectors and banks foreclosing on homeowners, have increased in number and now represent about half of all civil cases. For example, debt collectors recently filed 1,600 lawsuits in Colorado against students delinquent on their school loans.


Diving deeper into the NCSC data related to tort cases, the Journal story says automobiles are involved in nearly two-thirds of tort cases. In Florida, a move to require drivers to carry bodily injury insurance that passed the Florida House earlier this year would ensure those involved in accidents would have a responsible level of coverage.

The Journal article references a report from a Conference of Chief Justices committee that “found that 0.2% of civil cases resulted in judgments of more than $500,000, while most tort cases ended in judgments of $12,000 or less.”

So, the next time you hear someone talk about “judicial hellholes” as they push anti-consumer proposals to make it harder to hold corporations and insurance companies accountable when they cause harm, show them the numbers presented in the Journal story.

Ryan Banfill is communications director for the Florida Justice Association. E-mail him at Follow on Twitter @RyBan1001.

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