An Overview of the U.S. Tort System

Most legal scholars agree that the scope of liability in the U.S. legal system has expanded dramatically in the past three decades. That expansion began early in the 20th century with a growing acceptance of the notion that more extensive tort liability would serve to compensate injured parties and reduce the level of accidents. Although no complete set of data is available, limited data call attention to several prominent features of the current tort litigation landscape—that the vast majority of tort claims are settled out of court, that state courts handle the bulk of torts, and that different types of torts have different impacts on litigants and on the tort system.

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