Florida has not been immune to the economic downturn plaguing the nation. Surging prices are hitting our state hard, and many small businesses are struggling to get by. One of the best ways to help alleviate the burden shouldered on the state economy is to pursue common-sense lawsuit reforms and close the door to the draining effects of frivolous lawsuits.
There are far too many stories where innocent small business owners are threatened with bankruptcy after getting slammed by bogus lawsuits. Many cannot afford the massive legal costs to defend themselves in court and therefore have no choice but to settle. The number of quick settlements to make lawsuits go away in Florida highly incentivizes incorrigible trial layers to target more and more people, regardless of whether the defendants are deserving. This phenomenon has been a major problem in Florida for years, costing our state economy billions of dollars and thousands of lost jobs.
People must understand that this broken system incentivizes rampant lawsuit abuse from trial attorneys. By simply threatening the livelihoods of small business families and dangling a crushing lawsuit over their heads, greed-obsessed trial lawyers can reap fast payouts. It is inarguable that this system needs to be fixed before more and more trial lawyers take advantage of our struggling economy to go after undeserving Americans. It should be a shock to no one that Florida is ranked 46th in the U.S. for its prevalence of liability lawsuits against businesses compared to other states.
Not only is this practice unjust and can destroy local businesses for sport, but it is also a significant drain on the economy and increases the cost of everyday goods and services, like gas and groceries. In anticipation of future lawsuits, for instance, many companies are forced to increase the prices of their goods and services to ensure they stay afloat if worst comes to worst. Innocent businesses should not have to prepare for lawsuits when they have done nothing wrong, and the destructive self-motivated actions of trial attorneys directly spike costs at a time when inflation is already a significant problem.
Many people are unaware of how severe the negative impacts of frivolous lawsuits are. The fact of the matter is everyone – yes, every single person – in the state of Florida suffers because of sham lawsuits. Claims made by trial lawyers in bad faith cost the state more than 173,000 jobs yearly and torches $11.7 billion from local economies. That’s jobs and money we could be investing in the fight against inflation. Instead, inflation and lawsuit abuse are dealing Floridians a one-two punch.
Now is the time to invest serious effort in reshaping our state’s civil justice system. With so much economic uncertainty, helping businesses stay afloat should start in Florida courtrooms. Florida lawmakers must come together and ensure our legal system works for everyone – not just lawyers looking to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.
Jonathan Andrews is the chairperson of Florida First Forever.
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