Why doesn't the USA have loser pays for lawsuits like the rest of the world?

by admin on May 17, 2011

In this country, lawyers are allowed to file lawsuits, no matter how frivolous, against businesses. Even if the business wins the lawsuit, they are out thousands or even millions of dollars in legal fees. If you win a lawsuit, why shouldn’t the loser of the lawsuits have to pay your legal fees and compensation for the other losses they have caused with their lawsuit? Just about every other country requires the loser of a lawsuit to pay the costs.

Likewise, I don’t see how it is fair that people falsely accused of crimes in this country (or even worse, falsely convicted of crimes they didn’t commit) are penalized for something that they didn’t do and not fairly compensated (one famous example of this is that infamous "rape" case at Duke University a few years ago; another is the shameful treatment of people accused of terrorism by the Bush and Obama administrations, a number of which are probably innocent). I also don’t think it is fair to anybody that the laws in this country are so complex that even lawyers often cannot understand them.

From the perspective of people who desire that justice be done, our legal system is broken in this country. However, it certainly seems to me that this broken legal system benefits the interests of politicians and lawyers. Why do the rest of us allow this injustice system to run rampant, destroying businesses and destroying people’s lives?

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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    allfoamnobeer May 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I don’t want to get into a political discussion of how falsely accused are treated, especially when I see so few instances of convictions of people for crimes they did not commit.

    However, every state (or jurisdiction) has its own rules and smaller jurisdictions within the states can have further rules. The state in which I practice has no sympathy for frivolous lawsuits and will, without compunction, award attorneys’ fees to a person or entity who defends and wins against a frivolous lawsuit. There are specific rules that prohibit a frivolous lawsuit and ethical rules prohibiting attorneys from representing anyone who they believe has a frivolous claim. That said, it is very difficult to prove that a claim is frivolous because if it has at least the semblance of being valid, it’s valid.

    As for lawyers not understanding complex laws, there are always attorneys who understand them. That’s why they practice in that particular area of law. There are rules about which I know nothing, but that doesn’t mean they are too complex for me to understand. They simply are not in my chosen areas of practice.

    Finally, provided it’s requested, the prevailing party in a lawsuit is usually entitled to fees, so in that case, the loser does pay.

    Joe B May 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    It would give the rich an undue advantage and valid suits would diminish via fear of losing.

    Just because you win doesn’t mean you’re innocent or guilty. It may simply be a loophole or who has the better lawyer.

    I’m poor and a doctor was negligent in surgery, should I not file my suit out of fear he’ll be able to get 10k expert witnesses and top notch council? If I lose that’s my expense?

    In the states, even when civil suits are frivolous, especially with doctors – the states are VERY reluctant to make them pay their fees even when the case is deemed baseless.

    Señor Sñarky May 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Umm, except you’re wrong. If you file a frivolous lawsuit you CAN be required to pay the court costs of the other side.

    If the prosecution had to worry about paying a ransom to everybody that they couldn’t convict, that would have a terrible chilling effect on the government’s ability to try cases and prevent ordinary people from filing civil suits. That’s a terrible, terrible idea.

    What laws are so complex that even lawyers don’t understand them? I don’t know what you’re talking about. There are complex laws, alright, but there aren’t many I know of that people don’t understand. Maybe you don’t understand them because you have a very limited understanding of what the legal system is all about, but everybody else knows what’s going on.

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