Myths About Justice July 29, 2009.

There are quite a few myths about justice that many Americans don’t seem to be aware of, likely due to the fact that even the media gets it wrong.

Haven’t we all heard this one before: "Of course the number of lawsuits, including medical malpractice suits, being filed is just staggering." Well, guess what? This is definitely not the case and hasn’t been true since at least 1985. "Just to throw around a few statistics here, consider this: personal injury cases dropped 79 percent between 1985 and 2003. This is the most interesting thing though – that in 1985 there were 3,600 trials floating around in US District Courts. By 2003 the number had plummeted to a modest 800 or so," indicated Christopher Mellino, a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.

While some might think these are old and out-of-date figures, the trend of fewer personal injury lawsuits continues, not only nationally, but at the state level. Sure, we all read about cases in the paper, but they are nowhere near as prevalent as the media makes them out to be. The ones that get reported are the big cases, and they are by no means representational of the number of cases actually tried per year.

Another prevalent myth that seems to make the rounds on what appears to be a daily basis, is that rising health care costs are making it insurmountable for doctors to practice because of all the lawsuits. "It’s true that the costs of health care are rising every year, the medical bills alone certainly prove that, but medical malpractice lawsuits don’t have anything to do with the cost of health care," commented Mellino, a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer.

The truth of the matter is that med mal suits are roughly less than 2 percent of the total health care spending. In other words, call this a drop in the bucket. So rather than doctors dropping like flies because they are being picked off by med mal suits, the numbers of physicians is actually rising – a reassuring fact to say the least.

Everyone has heard about, or perhaps participated in a situation where a small business owner was driven out of his or her livelihood by a lawsuit, so to address this issue, legal reform is well past due. "This is not accurate either and lawsuits rank dead last as a concern for small business owners," said Mellino. What really appears to be happening is that the larger concerns are trying to upset the legal apple cart to avoid being held culpable for malfeasance and neglect.

This last myth is rather counter intuitive if anyone bothers to dig past the initial impression the words create – that trial lawyers are driving corporations out of business. "That couldn’t be further from the truth. Justice is for everyone and wrongdoers need to be held accountable for their deeds, whether they’re a large corporation or not," added Christopher Mellino, a Cleveland malpractice lawyer specializing in Cleveland medical malpractice cases in Ohio.