America, the Land of the Lawsuit and the Home of the Lawyer

America, the Land of the Lawsuit
the Home of the Lawyer

© David Burton 2023


     America has long been referred to as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Today, a more apt description could well be: “the land of the lawsuit and the home of the lawyer”.

     "Have you or a loved one been injured?" If you've turned on a TV in the past four decades, you've seen appeals that begin like this from scores of attorneys claiming that they will fight for YOU. But it was once a crime for lawyers to hawk their services. Today, commercials selling legal advice are legal – and they now clutter up our TV screens day and night.

     If you are like me, you must marvel at the number of advertisements for lawyers, law firms and lawsuits that appear on television every day and night throughout the entire year. If you are like me, you must wonder at the cumulative cost of advertising of these lawyers and law firms. And, if you are like me, you must contemplate the total cost to the American economy of all the lawsuits and the advertising on behalf of the multitude of law firms and lawyers in our nation. For some perspective: in 2018 alone, trial lawyers collectively spent $226 million on TV advertising![1]

     According to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), By 2021, that number had risen from $226 million to $1.4 billion! The ATRA reported that “Trial lawyers and aggregators spend enormous sums of money on television, radio and outdoor advertising to recruit new clients for lawsuits . . . These latest advertising numbers show that plaintiff’s attorneys aren’t slowing down in their relentless pursuit of their next payday . . . It’s clear that trial lawyers continue to put profits ahead of vulnerable members of society who are being misled by deceptive ads.(Ref. 2)

     If you've turned on a television in the past four decades, you've seen attorneys advertising ad nauseam. Given just how prevalent they are, it's hard to imagine that there was a time when legal ads were illegal.
     "In the old days it was unethical to advertise," said Texas attorney Jim Adler. "The bar could come after you and take away your law license. And it was also a crime." When Adler opened up his own firm in 1973, he wasn't allowed to advertise for new clients. But that all changed four years later. A 1976 Arizona newspaper ad for a law firm lead to a Supreme Court decision that allowed attorneys to advertise their services. In 1977, the landmark Bates v. State Bar of Arizona case involved a small print ad that a Phoenix firm had dared to place in the local newspaper. It opened the floodgates for a big shift in the legal profession.
     Attorneys like Adler began making commercials like the following: "I'm better than a mean lawyer – I'm Jim Adler, the tough, smart lawyer!"
     It wasn't a decision Adler made lightly. People couldn't believe that he advertised. But Adler couldn't believe how well it worked. "It was amazing," he said. "I went on one channel, and the phone started ringing off the hook." Today, Jim Adler & Associates has more than 300 employees across Texas. His advertising budget has grown as well. Adler's "Texas Hammer" ads are big productions, and he creates versions that air in English and in Spanish.
     TV advertising in the United States for lawyers is a billion-dollar-a-year industry and those ads provide a service. For most Americans who are just hiring a lawyer once or twice in their life, they often don't know lawyers. So, lawyer advertising has helped connect a whole lot of Americans to legal help when they need it. And, today, there's plenty of such help to choose from.
     To date, Jim Adler says his firm has spent more than $100 million on advertising. It works! Which means that these types of ads aren't going to slow down any time soon.[3]

     Many of the lawsuits advertised on television involve actions by the U.S. government that enable payments to victims and their families of one transgression or other, e.g., payment to former marines or their families for illnesses caused by tainted water at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base some 50 years previous. In such cases, I can only wonder if there was collusion between the politicians who enacted the law - the Camp Lejeune Justice Act - granting payouts to victims of the tainted water and the multitude of lawyers going after a piece of the payout money. After all, many of our senators and representatives are themselves lawyers.

     In the case of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, the wheels of justice are turning quite slowly.

     As of early August 2023, nearly 100,000 claims had been filed with the Navy over potential exposure to toxic water at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina. But a year after key legislation was signed by President Biden, the Navy had only begun processing fewer than a fifth of the claims, and no settlements had been paid.
     "The reality is we're a year out from the passage of the bill and not one claim has been settled and not one offer for settlement has been made," Mike Partain, a male breast cancer survivor who was born at Camp Lejeune, told CBS News.
     After decades of delay, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, signed in August of 2022, was supposed to streamline the compensation process for possible victims of toxic water exposure. The U.S. government acknowledged that from 1953 to 1987, nearly 1 million veterans and civilians were potentially exposed to dangerous chemicals in the drinking water at the Marine base. In some cases, levels of toxins were 400 times what safety standards allowed.
     With no settlement from the Navy for its Marine Corps veterans forthcoming, Partain and about 1,100 other potential victims sued the U.S. government in North Carolina.
     Early in the summer of 2023, a group of Camp Lejeune widows protested outside the Justice Department over the months-long delays. Federal judges in North Carolina have recently selected a panel of lawyers to represent plaintiffs in what is shaping up to be one of the largest mass litigations in U.S. history. Meanwhile, the TV ads by the lawyers continue on a nearly 24/7 schedule.[4]

     The US holds one of the most interesting records when it comes to litigation. Rising litigation costs and frivolous lawsuits orchestrated by lawyers looking to make a quick buck plague the country. In most of the cases, the plaintiff and the defendant usually have little to gain. Even with a hefty settlement amount, it doesn’t make up for the emotional stress and the lost time spent on meeting with attorneys and going to court. Presented below are some lawsuit statistics you might find interesting.
      1. The US holds the top spot in the world for the largest number of lawsuits. Simply stated, the U.S. is the most litigious country in the world and it has the largest number of lawsuits recorded every year.
     But if we take the number of litigations per capita into account, the top spot belongs to Germany. According to lawsuit statistics by country, Germany has 123.2 lawsuits per 1,000 people, while the US only has 74.5 lawsuits per 1,000 people.
      2. According to lawsuit data in the US, there are about 40 million lawsuits filed every year. Unfortunately, many of these lawsuits are frivolous lawsuits filed by predatory attorneys who take advantage of the legal system to earn hefty sums.
      3. According to lawyer statistics, in 2020, there were over 1.32 million lawyers in the US. That’s only a little over 200,000 more lawyers than in 2015. But there was an oversupply of lawyers compared to the number of jobs available.
      4. Litigation statistics show that large companies spend huge amounts of money on litigation. Large companies’ spending on litigation has been increasing since 2016. In 2020, companies spent approximately $22.8 billion on litigation.
      5. Every year, about 200,000 patients die because of medical error or malpractice. Yet, according to lawsuit statistics, medical malpractice lawsuits account for only 15% of the total personal injury lawsuits filed every year. What’s alarming is that 80% of these malpractice lawsuits don’t end in favor of the plaintiffs, which means there’s no compensation for the injuries or deaths.
      6. Only 0.13% of perceived racial discrimination cases are filed in court. One study estimates that there 3.4 million potential occurrences of racial discrimination every year. Of this number, only 31,000 are filed with the EEOC. The number of cases that go to trial is reduced further to 5,000.
      7. In a summary of caseloads and trial statistics provided by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts for a 12-month period ended on March 31, 2019, it was concluded that civil case filings in US district courts rose by 3%. Moreover, the criminal defendant filings rose by 11%.
      8. Many people go to jail for nothing more than drug possession. The police make about one million arrests on account of a drug offenses every year. However, four out of five convicts were imprisoned for less grave or more grave crimes than drug possession.
      9. According to US lawsuit statistics on class action lawsuits, settlements amounted to $2 billion in 2019.
    10. Florida had the busiest state courts based on lawsuit statistics by state and caseloads. Florida had the most caseloads, with 17,600 cases closed by its state courts. State courts in California and New York closed 11,000 and 10,000 cases, respectively.
    11. As of 2021, the largest settlement based on lawsuit statistics in the history of the US was worth $206 billion. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was the largest settlement in the history of the United States. This settlement worth $206 billion occurred between Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard and the attorneys general of 46 states and five territories. The purpose of the settlement was to compensate the states for the medical costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses.
    12. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, gets sued an average of 20 times a day or 5,000 times a year. The majority of these lawsuits come from the company’s employees on account of workplace discrimination or personal injury. Some of these cases go to trial, while others end in settlements.
    13. The percentage of civil cases that go to trial has decreased based on a 2018 Stanford Law School study of trial cases. The study’s researcher found a 62% decrease in civil cases that went to trial between 1997 and 2016. The researcher supposed that litigants opted for less time-consuming alternatives such as settlements, summary trials, and voluntary dismissals.
    14. The federal judicial caseload statistics of 2019 indicated a 5% increase in filings. The US courts recorded a combined filing of 376,763 civil and criminal cases. Moreover, there were 389,666 terminations, marking a decline in the number of pending cases.
    15. The federal government has limited sexual assault and harassment damages to no more than $300,000. However, this amount doesn’t hurt large organizations at all. A law and economics professor at Vanderbilt University set out to determine the monetary value of this type of case using sexual harassment lawsuit statistics and concluded that sexual harassment damages should be $7.3 million higher.
    16. At the end of 2021, it was estimated that COVID-19 could cost businesses $21 billion in lawsuits if deaths from take-home infection reached 300,000. Family members and relatives could sue employers on account of take-home infections.
    17.. Car accident claims are the most common personal injury lawsuits in America. According to personal injury lawsuit statistics, millions of Americans have vehicular accidents every year. Many of those who were in car accidents and sustained injuries file personal injury lawsuits against people who caused those accidents.
    18. Employee lawsuit statistics on workplace discrimination have an overall effect on managerial representation. By analyzing 171 high-profile cases against workplace discrimination, researchers identified a 10% gain for black women and a 13% gain for black men in managerial representation. The researchers found that these figures were statistically significant, which meant they could only be attributed to the lawsuits.
    19. Lawsuit statistics show, commercial liability costs increased by 14% between 2016 and 2018. That means that businesses paid $343 billion in 2018, up by $43 billion from figures in 2016. What’s alarming is that businesses generating less than $1 million in annual revenue bore 39% of liability costs.
    20. In a study conducted among 65,000 small businesses, researchers found that a staggering 36% to 53% of small businesses get sued every year. This is detrimental to small businesses because lawsuits are often costly. These businesses need to brace themselves for attorneys’ fees, hefty settlement costs, emotional distress, and loss of business opportunities to competitors. Considering that the small business owners are making $71,000 per year on average, they can’t afford lawsuits.
    21. In a medical malpractice report for 2019, researchers surveyed physicians who got sued. They found that the number one reason behind medical malpractice lawsuits is consistent with surveys conducted in previous years. Delayed diagnosis and failure to diagnose remain the top reasons for lawsuits, followed by complications from treatment or surgery.
    22. Lawsuits against physicians are very common. According to researchers, at least 34% of physicians get sued in their career. Furthermore, research shows that general surgeons and OB/GYNs are most likely to get sued.
    23. Malpractice lawsuit statistics show a 2.91% increase in payout from 2017 to 2018, reaching $4.03 billion. 96.5% of payment amounts resulted from settlement, while the remaining 3.5% resulted from a trial court decision.
    24. According to slip and fall lawsuit statistics, the average settlement of this type of lawsuit ranges between $15,000 and $45,000. A settlement could go lower than this average range in case of a minor injury. Likewise, the settlement could go higher if the injury is serious and the plaintiff holds firm evidence of negligence. However, most cases fall within the said range.
    25. According to police lawsuit statistics, $300 million were paid in settlements in 2019. Most lawsuits involved false arrests, excessive force, and civil rights violations. What’s unfortunate about this is that taxpayers are the ones bearing the burden of the costs of lawsuits because of police misconduct.
    26. Patent lawsuits increased by 9% in the first five months of 2020, even though the pandemic disrupted businesses and US courts. Cases coming from non-practicing entities (companies that generate revenues through patent licensing) greatly contributed to the increase. A privacy policy comes in handy in these scenarios as it can greatly increase a company’s chances to win a patent infringement case.
    27. The first eight months of 2020 saw a spike in 401(k) filed cases. It was believed that this increase resulted from new tools at a plaintiff’s attorney disposal, the maturing body of law under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the pandemic.
    28 According to real estate lawsuit statistics and records, breach of contract is the most common reason for lawsuits. Buyers, sellers, agents, landlords, and tenants have all resorted to legal means to pursue their rights. In this type of dispute, the plaintiff must have proof that the other party failed to fulfill their obligations or adhere to the pre-arranged terms of use.
    29. Tort cases usually pique public interest. However, data shows that there aren’t a lot of tort cases filed in state courts. In fact, they account for only 4% of all civil cases in the US. According to available data, that percentage remained consistent from 2012 to 2018.
    30. City payouts because of police misconduct in New York increased by almost $30 million in 2019. Based on the number of lawsuits against police departments, the statistics indicated an increase in payouts. The city paid $68 million to victims of assault, false arrest or imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. For comparison, the city paid out only $39 million in 2018.
     People gain little from going to trial. Not only is it financially draining, but it’s also incredibly stressful. As a result, many people decide not to pursue a case all the way to court. Instead, they opt for an out-of-court settlement. Still, any lawsuit is likely to prove to be very expensive. Win, lose or draw, lawyers and other legal expenses still must be paid.[5]

     How many lawyers and lawsuits is too many? I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know that there are a lot of both. As I sit in front of my television set each day trying to watch a number of programs that are of some interest to me, I an bombarded with a multitude of advertisements for lawyers and law firms who are urging viewers to contact them with regard various potential lawsuits. Most of the advertisements are repeated several times in the course of my daily TV viewing. Here are some of the ad’s to which I am subjected:

     Morgan & Morgan Law Firm: $15 Billion Recovered for Clients; We Never Settle for Less, and Neither Should You; We fight For The People; Pay only if you win; America's Largest Injury Law Firm; Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

     Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit: If you or your loved one suffered health problems or cancer from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible for compensation from a Camp Lejeune lawsuit; You may be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune lawsuit if you or your loved one: * Was exposed to contaminated drinking water for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. *Suffered cancer or other health issues related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

     Roundup Cancer Lawsuit: If you or a loved one were diagnosed with blood cancer such as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after using Roundup weed killer herbicides products, you may be entitled to recover compensation from a Roundup lawsuit case or settlement claim; Time is limited – Act now; Receive the justice and compensation that you deserve.

     Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement: In 1998, 52 state and territory attorneys general signed the Master Settlement Agreement with the four largest tobacco companies in the U.S. to settle dozens of state lawsuits brought to recover billions of dollars in health care costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses; Top-Rated Personal Injury Attorneys to Help You Succeed; Millions Recovered For Clients; Get a Free Consultation.

     Mesothelioma lawsuit settlements: Our Mesothelioma Attorneys Have Decades of Experience Helping Victims of Asbestos Exposure; For over three decades, our mesothelioma lawyers have fought tirelessly so that our clients get the justice and compensation they need to ensure their health and families are taken care of; We Have Settled Hundreds Of Cases in Excess of $1 Million; Exclusively dedicated to Mesothelioma Victims and their families; Mesothelioma is all we do; We are the largest law firm in the U.S. dedicated to Mesothelioma victims and their families.

     Rubenstein Law Firm: Have you been injured in an accident . . . You may be entitled to compensation; Contact Rubenstein Law to see how we can help; Rubenstein Law has been getting justice for personal injury victims since 1988; With a strong reputation for success and Billions of dollars won for clients, Rubenstein Law continues to grow to meet the needs of victims nationally; Our experienced and dedicated personal injury attorneys have years of combined legal experience helping accident victims.

     Jeffrey Glassman Law Firm: The car accident lawyers in Boston at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers understand the challenges of dealing with all types of motor vehicle accidents; Make sure you receive maximum compensation under the law for any type of accident; You won’t be charged any legal fees unless we’re able to recover money for you; If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of contact with asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation.

     Sokolove Law: If diagnosed with mesothelioma and regularly used talc-based powder, you may be entitled to compensation; Chemical hair straightening products may be linked to uterine cancer.

     ???: Successfully recovered billions of dollars; Non-attorney spokespersson; May be entitled to receive a cash award; No risk to you; We'll let you know what your case is potentially worth; You maybe entitled to $26,000 per employee,

     In the last decade, the way people watch TV has changed drastically. Today, television consumption has changed significantly; however, its effectiveness hasn't. TV advertisements are still the most effective way to convey lawyers’ messages to potential clients.
     Television advertisements are a business boon because they can leverage the same message to reach large audiences. Repetition is an effective and easy learning tool for memorization. A person's mind is programmed to respond favorably to repetition. The reason television advertising for attorneys is so successful is that it impacts larger audiences multiple times a day. Consequently, television commercials are all over the place, including in one’s living room, a doctor's office, hospital rooms, and retail spaces. Well-placed advertisements help law firms land more multi-million-dollar cases.
     Law firms are spending nearly $900 million in television advertising every year. That’s a 68% increase since 2008 - a growth rate that outpaces TV spending by all other industries. Leading the pack are trial lawyers, who are spending huge sums for TV ad space. Legal TV advertising grew by over 68% in the past decade, doubling its share of the local spot in television advertising. Legal television ad spending, unlike other major television advertising categories, such as restaurants, automotive sales, and product retailers, has consistently increased in the last decade.[6]

     It seems like you can’t watch TV even for a minute without seeing a pile of lawyer advertising. In 2017, A handful of law firms each spent over $10 Million Dollars a year in TV ads. A study by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform reported TV lawyers were expected to spend $892 Million around that time, a 68 per cent increase in only seven years. The bottom line on that study: Lawyer spending on TV ads went up six times faster than overall ad spending in the years following 2008.
     It might be well for a prospective litigant to ask himself if he/she had been in a car accident or sustained another type of injury, does he/she want an attorney thinking more about the next television ad script and shooting schedule, or one focused on meeting with him/her and handling his/her case effectively.
     TV ads generally break down into several categories. Often the TV lawyers seek a high volume of clients, many or most of whom are referred out to other attorneys. The advertiser may keep one or two cases so they can say that they actually represent clients. Others seek a volume of people to pad out the numbers of various class action lawsuits. Cases against prescriptions drug companies, medical device manufacturers and others require numbers.
     Massive amounts of money go towards legal TV ads. Chances are, if you contact the TV ad people, you may or may not actually ever meet with the attorney. You’ll likely receive a form to fill out and meet with someone else. If you’ve been hit with an injury, insurance companies often do not offer the help you need and rely upon. While the insurance company befuddles you with less than helpful information, do you want to wait for TV lawyers writing their scripts or do you want to meet quickly with an attorney ready to address your questions? Wouldn’t you rather meet with an attorney quickly who has actually handled cases similar to yours many times before?
     TV lawyers are getting on peoples nerves with their lawsuits against the manufacturers of Zantac and talcum powder, priests and Boy Scout leaders molesting children. Why can’t something be done about how they are taking over the advertising time? Now all you see is lawyers and prescription medicine ads and fake insurance ads using scare tactics to get people to buy their products and services.[7]

     Trial lawyer ads are everywhere on television. Many of these ads use blaring headlines, dire warnings, and even government agency logos to claim doctor-prescribed medications could be deadly. Others say that everyday household products cause cancer, without any evidence to back this charge. These ads promise big money if consumers sign up to sue.
     It got so bad that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took notice. A few years back. It sent letters to at least seven law firms and “lead generators” warning that their television ads could deceive viewers into believing that the medications involved were part of a government recall. The FTC also warned advertisers that they needed to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate their claims about a drug’s purported risks.
     Such ads can be dangerous to consumers, especially older Americans, who might believe the drugs they are taking are unreasonably dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported drug lawsuit ads had caused hundreds of patients to stop taking their medications, leading to severe issues such as strokes, blood clots, and even death.
     The simple fact is the more plaintiffs’ lawyers spend on advertising, the more people sue. As a result, companies are overwhelmed with litigation. More than half the civil lawsuits in federal courts were mass tort cases of one type or another, many generated by television ads designed to scare people into calling the lawyer whose number is scrolling across the bottom of the screen in bold red letters.
     In one very public case, plaintiffs’ lawyers were spending millions of dollars on ads that push an unproven scientific theory that glyphosate — an ingredient in Roundup weed killer — causes cancer to drum up clients. The first Roundup ads appeared in November 2015, a few months after a European health organization classified it as a “probable” carcinogen — the same group that claims coffee and bacon causes cancer. The finding was at odds with virtually every other national and international regulator, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which prohibited cancer warnings on Roundup.
     That didn’t stop plaintiffs’ lawyers. Soon after a federal judge allowed their shaky claims to proceed in 2018, plaintiffs’ lawyers bumped their spending to over $1 million a month. They increased spending to $1.4 million a month after winning a $289 million jury verdict in August 2018, and by July of 2019, they had increased their ad buys to $16.7 million — enough to air 58,000 ads.
     In just two short years, Roundup lawsuits in state and federal courts increased from less than 2,000 to nearly 20,000. Plaintiffs’ lawyers won several massive jury verdicts and, in 2019, they were hoping the growing wave of lawsuits would give them leverage to negotiate a big settlement, including hundreds of millions of dollars in fees.
     We’ve seen this play out repeatedly with mass torts. Even when the plaintiffs’ lawyers appear to lose, they win. They launched a similar ad blitz against Xarelto, for example, 21 months after the FDA approved the blood-thinning drug in 2011. Ad spending peaked at an estimated $6.5 million in October 2014 as lawyers told patients the medicine was potentially deadly. The ads slowed down after defendants won a series of trials in 2017, but the lawyers still negotiated a $775 million settlement in 2019, likely rewarding them with at least $200 million in fees.
     There are several reasons to be worried about this trend. Plaintiffs’ lawyers seem to concentrate their advertising in places where important jury trials are pending, and sometimes they even showcase how much juries in other parts of the country have awarded in similar cases. It’s perilously close to jury tampering since studies have shown jurors can be influenced by suggestions, especially when it comes to nebulous non-economic awards like pain and suffering and punitive damages.
     We should all be concerned about lawsuit ads that use government logos and terms like “medical alert,” “health alert,” or suggest a drug recall when there wasn’t one. Trolling for clients on TV works for lawyers, but it causes collateral damage to everybody else.[8]

  1. 11 Best Lawyer Commercials in 2023, Chris Dreyer,, Accessed 13 August 2023.
  2. Study: Trial Lawyers Spent $1.4 Billion Advertising in 2021, American Tort Reform Association, 22 February 2022.
  3. How lawyers' TV ads became a billion-dollar industry, CBS NEWS, 13 February 2022.
  4. Camp Lejeune Marine vets, families still wait for promised settlements over possible toxic water exposure,
    Catherine Herbridge, CBS NEWS, 11 August 2023.
  5. Lawsuit Statistics To Intrigue You in 2023,, 13 November 2021.
  6. IS TV ADVERTISING FOR LAWYERS EFFECTIVE IN 2023?, Chris Dreyer,, 2 January 2023.
    24 September 2017.
  8. Misleading TV Ads Make Trial Lawyers Rich, Harold Kim, Morning Consult, 25 November 2019.


  14 September 2023 {ARTICLE 592; UNDECIDED_83}    
Go back to the top of the page