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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

The issue of lawsuit abuse and abuse of the litigation process is front and center, especially because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a new set of television advertisements on this topic. The issue struck a chord since the angle taken in the new advertisements is that lawsuit abuse hurts small businesses and takes away jobs, presumably arguing that invalid lawsuits costs consumers and businesses millions each year.

As a civil case injury attorney, I have scoured the Chamber of Commerce lawsuit abuse website but do not see any mention of the millions of dollars consumers pay when insurance defense lawyers fight an injured consumer’s truly valid injury or death claims for months and years in court. In criminal cases, prosecutors that want to get to the bottom of something follow the money trail to the truth. Likewise, this article exposes the truth about abuses in the civil lawsuit process that you need to know—by following the money scent.

1.Who is sponsoring the lawsuit abuse ads?

The very expensive T.V. ads are paid for by an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and some of the largest corporations and insurance companies have ponied up the monies. What are their real business interests? Read on…

2.Why are these groups sponsoring the lawsuit abuse and abuse of law process ads?

Think a moment about why insurance companies and large corporations pay millions of dollars for such television advertisements? Are they really out to protect you as the man on the street? Or, is the motivation to retain maximum insurance company profits, and convince potential jurors of the future that there are no valid claims out there? Will their arguments cause a benefit to trickle down the working class small business, or will the insurance companies pocket excess millions by arguing that virtually every injury claim is somehow frivolous?

3.Do frivolous lawsuits and frivolous legal defenses cost everyone money?

Yes, there is a cost of an attorney filing a frivolous lawsuit, and there is also a tremendous cost to consumers when insurance companies and corporate attorneys make frivolous lawsuit defenses instead of paying valid claims. Insurance defense lawyers are the attorneys the insurers hire to defend businesses or individuals when sued for alleged negligent or careless acts. With regard to the lawsuit abuse of invalid legal defenses, the cost associated with these insurance defense lawyers add millions of dollars to the civil lawsuit system also. Is the Chamber of Commerce arguing that corporations are not liable for valid claims arising from their liability? On the lawsuit abuse website sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, a careful few “abuse” cases are featured. They are meant to be extreme cases and they do not represent that massive majority of validly filed injury or death suits filed around the state and federal courts annually. The new series of ads is another effort to “brainwash” the public, and this argument has been adopted by the insurance industry going back decades.

The Chamber Of Commerce ads speak for some businesses but the Chamber has no monopoly on representing small business owners-I have represented many business owners whose family members were killed by wrongful company conduct like egregious lack of safety, or clear violations of regulations. I have also represented business owners who suffered serious injury in car, truck or other unfortunate accidents. Business owners need to be compensated fairly just like anyone else, and the civil lawsuit system is the only fair system to both compensate the injured, and penalize the careless equally.

Our legal system never penalizes a person or corporation that is safe and follows the law and current regulations. The issue of lawsuit abuse does not apply to these individuals or corporations and the existing system protects such businesses from abusive lawsuits without a legal basis. In fact, judges can sanction parties and attorneys that file a frivolous lawsuit and a frivolous legal defense as well.

For more on the topic of what type of lawsuit abuses are filed by insurance defense attorneys to wrongly drag out or delay valid injury or death claims, see parts 2 and 3 of this series and other articles by bloggers on this Injuryboard network.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.

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