Four Interesting Facts About the American Legal System

Legislative history

Though the American legal system might have a reputation as being particularly venomous, its legal statutes were put in place for particular reasons. It’s up to the courts to decide whether or not the plethora of civil lawsuits filed in the country in any given year are actually valid or if they’re considered merely frivolous. There’s a whole world of legislative intent behind the federal statutes and regulations we all occasionally take for granted. With all that in mind, here are four facts you likely didn’t know about the legal system:

Fact 1. The way legal text is written is referred to as “Legal English.”

Sometimes called Legalese, Legal English is simply just a way for legal documents — especially federal statutes and regulations — to take on a highly specific cadence of their own. That’s why you hear terms like “last will and testament,” “null and void” and “fit and proper,” all phrases that at first might suggest redundancy. These doublets and triplets have been put in place in order to give the phrase a higher sense of specificity and precision, all things necessary when it comes to the law of the land. Legalese is used not just in the U.S., but also in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Fact 2. Civil suits in the U.S. rack up billions of dollars in annual costs.

You often hear tales about folks suing restaurants because their coffee was too hot or pressing charges against a neighbor for not raking the leaves off of his lawn. While plenty of these tend to be highly sensationalized or even fictionalized entirely, they remain embedded in the truth that the rate of litigation in America is gargantuan. In fact, civil lawsuits alone cost the country nearly $233 billion every year. Why? Now that’s some legislative history research worthy of some digging.

Fact 3. Personal injury cases make up the majority of American civil lawsuits.

Bus benches, radio ads, television commercials — there’s no escaping the amount of advertising personal injury law firms tend to dish out across various media. But it’s no surprise, either. More Americans file suits relating to some kind of personal injury, whether it’s medical malpractice, auto accidents or even a slip or fall sustained at work than any other type. However, only about 2% of these cases actually make it to a judge or jury; the rest are settled out of court.

Fact 4. A chunk of personal injury suits involve product liability problems.

Do all the legal research you want, but here’s where America’s ridiculousness level tends to get upped on the wacky scale. No one would argue that a manufacturer has a duty to not create faulty or dangerous products, right? But 13% of all personal injury suits involve consumers suing companies because they were injured by a specific product. Yes, there are federal statutes and regulations to protect users from buying hazardous materials in order to keep them safe. We truly are living in the 21st century.

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