Some people seem to be big on the idea that Americans sue people too much, and that our laws are too lax. Is it that different in other countries? After all, countries like Canada have pretty similar legal systems to ours. Are they suing each other much less often than we are?
Personal injury lawsuits
Lawsuits, like personal injury ones, are an important tool for American citizens. If, God forbid, you were injured in an accident, and the costs of medical care destroyed your personal finances, a personal injury lawsuit would be your best option for making yourself whole again. This is why we have personal injury lawsuits. However, there are limits on who may be sued and why, to ensure that only the right people pay out.
Of course, the law isn’t perfect, and it is possible that a good system can be abused. It’s worth looking at the similarities between lawsuits and “tort law” (the law that governs them) in countries that resemble ours in other ways.
The U.S. shares a legal heritage with Canada and many other countries by virtue of our historic connection with Great Britain. English Common Law is the basis for a great deal of our legal procedures and laws, and the same can be said of Canada. Personal injury law is derived in a large part from case histories, though, so things can be a bit different from country to country.
Still, there are similarities. If you call an ICBC lawyer to help with your car accident claim in Canada, you’ll hear a lot of the same questions that you’d hear in a U.S.-based consultation. Personal injury lawsuits are designed to fulfill similar needs all over the world.
Suing too much?
So, what about the second question: do Americans sue each other more than citizens of other countries? It’s true that the United States is the most litigious society in the world by some measures, including the number of lawyers per capita. However, by other measures, we don’t rank quite so high. The most direct way to address your question is to count up the lawsuits. On a per capita basis, the U.S. ranks a distant fifth in lawsuits, after countries like Germany and Sweden.
This doesn’t include every dimension of the question, of course. Personal injury lawyers often settle cases before they even file suit. However, it’s a good way to look at things generally. The American legal system’s treatment of personal injury lawsuits isn’t that unusual. Americans sue a fair bit, and we crack the top five in lawsuits per capita, but we’re not running away with the international title anytime soon. There is still plenty of room for opinions on this issue, of course, but we’ll leave that part to the readers.