There have been some news reports that not as many product liability lawsuits were filed last year (2007) as were filed in 2006. Of course, 2006 was an unusual year for the number of filings, given all the lawsuits filed over Vioxx and heart devices. The number of lawsuits filed in 2007 was still greater than were filed in 2005. I can foresee tort reform advocates pointing to this as part of some kind of long-term trend of lawsuit abuse. What I see in my practice is that in reality more lawsuits are being filed over injuries because more people are being injured. Corporations know that they can make huge profits even after paying off the injury claims, so there is no incentive for them to try to make safer products. Just look at the news reports on the Vioxx settlement, which despite being a large settlement, was still seen as a boon for the company and their stock price went up. Until we have a tort system that is strong enough to dissuade corporations from the wanton conduct that results in injuries, we will continue to handle a large number of lawsuits filed. Those who want to see the number of lawsuits decline should urge better regulation and more accountability for those who make harmful products.
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