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Op-Ed: New report reveals shocking hidden costs of lawsuit abuse in Illinois

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Illinois residents are facing tough economic times. From rising inflation to a stifled job market, the financial landscape is increasingly challenging.

Unfortunately, these conditions are exacerbated by an issue that isn’t familiar to many Illinoisans: the massive costs associated with lawsuit abuse. Excessive tort costs drain billions from our economy every year and place a substantial financial burden on every resident of our state.

A new report from Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse illuminates the staggering impact of this problem. Illinois faces direct losses of $14.48 billion annually due to frivolous lawsuits, resulting in a hidden tax – a “tort tax” – of more than $1,850 per person.

A primary symptom of lawsuit abuse is stacked costs due to regulatory burdens across all major industry groups. Retail trade, business services, and health services – industries that are instrumental in supporting our communities – experience the greatest losses from keeping up with these piling costs.

The layers of costs brought about by compliance and the fear of lawsuits drive up operational expenses for businesses, which in turn leads to higher prices for consumers. This rampant abuse has also resulted in the loss of 215,046 jobs yearly as businesses struggle to pay employees amidst the sea of litigation brought by trial lawyers.

The Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is a major source of contention and a prime example of how frivolous verdicts can further bog down an already oversaturated legal system.

Within Illinois courts, a surge of no-injury BIPA suits has transformed the state into a breeding ground where even minor compliance mishaps can result in back-breaking penalties for small businesses. The intent behind BIPA was to protect consumer privacy, but trial lawyers’ exploitation of this law has led to unintended consequences that handcuff business growth and innovation.

All of these factors collectively result in a “tort tax” that every Illinois citizen pays without even knowing it. The economic toll of lawsuit abuse affects us all, from higher prices at the checkout to fewer job opportunities and reduced economic growth. The $1,858 per person cost is an unnecessary financial burden that we can no longer afford to ignore.

Every Illinois resident has a stake in this fight. The pervasive nature of lawsuit abuse means that it touches every aspect of our daily lives, making everything more expensive and less accessible. It’s a hidden tax that we pay in the form of higher prices, lost jobs, and stunted economic progress. Our state’s economic health is now directly tied to the current legal environment we find ourselves in, and as it stands is unsustainable.

It’s time for our legislators to step up and enact common-sense reforms to help ease this burden. We must urge them to protect our communities, support our businesses, and ease the financial strain that Illinois families are already struggling with during challenging economic times.

The release of the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse’s Economic Impact report is a glaring wake-up call. By addressing the root causes of lawsuit abuse and implementing meaningful legal reforms, we can reduce these hidden costs that weigh us down and create a brighter future for all of Illinois.

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