The Rapid Rise of Litigation Costs
May 24, 2023 | Webinar
Nuclear verdicts. Third-party litigation financing. Forum shopping. These are just some of the contributing factors driving the rapid increase in the cost of litigation in the U.S. What can be done to reel things in? In this webinar, the Travelers Institute heard insights from Lauren Sheets Jarrell, Esq., Director & Counsel for Civil Justice Policy at the American Tort Reform Association, and Alexia Cruz, Travelers’ SVP and Claim General Counsel. Cruz and Sheets Jarrell explained policies and decisions driving the increase in litigation costs and social inflation in the U.S., the jurisdictions that are working to address rising costs, and practical risk management strategies for organizations navigating an increasingly uncertain litigation environment.
Presented by the Travelers Institute, the Master's in Financial Technology (FinTech) Program at the University of Connecticut School of Business, the Western New England University School of Law, the MetroHartford Alliance, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association and the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
The rapid rise in litigation costs continues. Sheets Jarrell shared that the primary drivers of litigation costs, which are having a huge impact on both state and national economies, are nuclear verdicts, serial plaintiffs, forum shopping, phantom damages and courts’ open-door policies for third-party litigation financing.
What tactics are being used to drive up litigation costs? Nuclear verdicts are “awards that exceed $10 million ... and exceed what we would consider a reasonable compensation for a plaintiff’s injury,” Sheets Jarrell explained. She described one particularly onerous judicial tactic that is being used by lawyers to achieve higher verdicts called “anchoring.” This is when the plaintiff’s attorney suggests a very high amount for the damage award, which then becomes the starting point in jurors’ minds for what should be awarded for the case. According to Sheets Jarrell, in the states where anchoring is legal, it is having a significant impact on the award amounts.
Third-party litigation funding in the U.S. Third-party litigation funding is “when a third party has an investment and/or financial stake in the outcome of a lawsuit,” Cruz explained. She shared findings from a 2021 Swiss Re Institute study that reports that $17 billion in capital was committed by third-party litigation funders, and more than 50% of that occurred in the U.S. Cruz added that the number could reach upward of $31 billion by 2028.
The reptile theory is a scare tactic. A tactic used by plaintiff’s attorneys called “reptile theory” taps into jurors’ “fight or flight” instincts. It’s often used as a way to steer the narrative in the courtroom away from what the law requires and toward what the defendant could have done differently, Cruz explained. “Making the argument that defendants are prioritizing profits over safety is a favorite theme from the plaintiffs. It’s really telling a jury that they’re not safe and appealing to that reptilian part of the brain telling them that they should be concerned – and that it’s their duty to protect society,” Cruz added.
Social inflation affects all. In many states, the average cost of social inflation per person per year is more than $1,000. Lawsuit abuse is “creating an individual tort tax that’s being passed on to consumers and is also equating to job loss and GDP costs,” Sheets Jarrell said.
The impact of legal advertising. Sheets Jarrell shared that in 2022, $180 million was spent on legal advertising on national network and cable television alone. “There are hundreds of millions more being spent on local advertising, specifically in jurisdictions where they’re looking to file lawsuits,” she added. The ads lay the groundwork for future litigation, especially for medical device and pharmaceutical lawsuits, Sheets Jarrell told us.
Going forward. There is hope. Many states, including Florida, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Montana, have recently enacted tort reform measures, which could put the brakes on some of the lawsuit abuse occurring in the country. Cruz advised that educating others on the real-world impacts of rising litigation costs is one of the best things that individuals can do to help stem the tide of lawsuit abuse. When it comes to advice on preventing situations that could lead to nuclear verdicts, Cruz said “the most important thing you can do for your clients is advise them to put in place safety protocols and follow them.”
Text, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series.
A laptop on a desk, with a coffee mug on one side and a small plant on the other. Text on the laptop screen, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Travelers Institute (registered trademark). Travelers. Joan Woodward appears on a video call.
JOAN WOODWARD: Good afternoon. And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute. Welcome to Wednesdays with Woodward, a webinar series where we convene leading experts for conversations about today's biggest challenges, both personal and professional.
Slide, About Travelers Institute (registered trademark) Webinars. The Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) educational webinar series is presented by the Travelers Institute, the public policy division of Travelers. This program is offered for informational and educational purposes only. You should consult with your financial, legal, insurance or other advisors about any practices suggested by this program. Please note that this session is being recorded and may be used as Travelers deems appropriate. Travelers Institute (registered trademark). Travelers.
So before we get started, I'd like to share our disclaimer about today's program.
Slide, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Title, The Rapid Rise of Litigation Costs. Logos. W.N.E., Western New England University School of Law. Travelers Institute (registered trademark). Travelers. University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business. M.H.A., MetroHartford Alliance. UCONN School of Business. M.S. in Financial Technology. American Property Casualty Insurance Association (registered trademark).
I also want to thank our webinar partners for today. And we have a lot of them. So the MetroHartford Alliance, the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business, the Master's in FinTech Program at UConn School of Business, and the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association. As well, today, we have the Western New England University School of Law. Welcome to all of our partner memberships.
So we really appreciate your attention to this topic. Last year, we held a webinar on nuclear verdicts, jury awards in excess of $10 million, and their impacts on the insurance industry. Since then, we've heard from you. We read all of our surveys. And our audience asked that we'd like to hear more about related topics of litigation.
So, today, we're back at the conversation about policies and judicial decisions driving the increase in litigation cost, social inflation in the U.S. and its impact it's having on our economy. And that impact is very significant. It is estimated that over 4 1/2 million jobs are lost each year due to excess tort costs.
To put that in perspective, that's enough jobs to employ half of New York City or the entire state of Oregon. So it's significant. We're also going to take a look at some positive developments that are taking place in some states that are working to address rising litigation costs as well as practical risk management strategies that you and your organization can use in the increasing uncertain litigation environment.
So I'm thrilled and honored to welcome a couple of special guests today to help provide perspective on all of this.
Slide, Speakers. Three pictures, with names and titles. Text, Joan Woodward. E.V.P., Public Policy; President, Travelers Institute, Travelers. Alexia Cruz. Senior Vice President, Claim General Counsel, Travelers. Lauren Sheets Jarrell, Esquire. Director & Counsel, Civil Justice Policy, American Tort Reform Association.
Lauren Sheets Jarrell is Director and Counsel for Civil Justice Policy at the American Tort Reform Association, the nation's first organization exclusively dedicated to reforming the civil justice system. She's been with the organization now for 10 years.
And among her responsibilities is she's the lead author of the annual ATRA report that sheds light on jurisdictions across the United States where legislative changes and judicial rulings have been contributing to an increase in the frequency and cost of litigation for all of us. She also manages their amicus program working in conjunction with Fortune 200 members to file briefs around the country on various tort reform issues. So, thanks for being here, Lauren.
And then we have my friend and colleague Alexia Cruz, who was a panelist for our webinar on nuclear verdicts last year. And so we're excited to be able to bring her back to the program now. She's been with Travelers for over 18 years. She's currently Senior Vice President and Claim General Counsel. She leads over 1,300 claim legal professionals.
Alexia spent seven years in claim general liability and six years leading the major case and complex claim units for Subrogation. Prior to joining Travelers, Alexia was a civil trial attorney. Our speakers are going to kick off with opening presentations as always.
And then we'll rejoin the conversation for a moderated discussion and, of course, take your questions. So please drop your questions any time during the program into the Q&A function at the bottom of your screen. So we're to get to as many as we can. We always get a lot. We appreciate everyone's engagement. So all right, Lauren, the virtual floor is yours.
Lauren joins the video call. Slide, The Rapid Rise of Litigation Costs. A picture of a judge's gavel. Text, Lauren Sheets Jarrell. Director & Counsel, Civil Justice Policy, American Tort Reform Association. http://www.atra.org.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Thanks, Joan. And thank you for the opportunity to join you all today. I'm looking forward to the conversation.
Slide, Economic Impact of Lawsuit Abuse. A picture of steps leading to a building, and a bullet point list. Text, States with the Highest "Tort Tax". District of Columbia, $2,300.16. Massachusetts, $2,150.70. California, $2,119.35. Washington, $2,096.41. New York, $2,013.52. Connecticut, $1,917.16. North Dakota, $1,822.16. Alaska, $1,757.68. Colorado, $1,691.10. Illinois, $1,688.95.
So moving on, I'm going to talk today about the rising-- rapid rise in litigation costs and what are some of the driving forces behind those. And as Joan mentioned at the outset, the rising costs are having a very real impact on both state—on both the state and national economies.
A recent study done by The Perryman Group has estimated that the economic-- has estimated the economic impact of these excessive litigation costs. And they've looked at the impact that it's having on individual state economies. The lawsuit abuse that we're seeing across the country and these rising costs are creating an individual tort tax that's being passed on to consumers. And it's also equating to job loss and GDP costs. Not surprisingly states with the highest tort taxes often make appearances on our annual Judicial Hellholes report because we see the most egregious lawsuit abuses in those states.
So on the screen, you see a list of the top-- the states with the highest tort tax currently based on 2022 data. We've seen that enactment of legal reforms that help rein in these excessive costs by decreasing lawsuit abuse in the states are having an impact. And they do make a difference that's at this level.
Slide, American Tort Reform Foundation. 2022 Judicial Hellholes. A numbered list with graphics of each state. 1, Georgia. 2, The Pennsylvania Supreme Court & The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. 3, California. 4, New York. 5, Cook County, Illinois. 6, South Carolina Asbestos Litigation. 7, Louisiana. 8, St. Louis.
Moving on, this is a list of our 2022 Judicial Hellholes that we released in December. These are the states where we're seeing the most egregious lawsuit abuse. Georgia was No. 1 for the first time in the state's history. You have some perennial hellholes like Pennsylvania, California, New York, Illinois. South Carolina asbestos litigation has been a newcomer to the list but is very problematic. And then we round out with Louisiana and St. Louis.
Slide, Drivers of Litigation Costs. Graphics of a judge's gavel and a hand holding money, and a bullet point list. Text, Nuclear Verdicts. Serial Plaintiffs. Forum Shopping. Phantom Damages. Open-Door Policy For Third-Party Litigation Financing.
So moving forward, I'm going to touch on the drivers of these costs. What is causing this rise? And I will speak to some of these. And then Alexia will complete the list. But we have nuclear verdicts, serial plaintiffs, and filing no-injury litigation, forum shopping, phantom damages, and then this open-door policy for third-party litigation financing. These are trends, as I mentioned, that we're seeing in Judicial Hellholes where you're seeing the rise in costs the most. And you're seeing the biggest cases of lawsuit abuse.
Slide, Nuclear Verdicts. Nuclear verdicts are multi-million-dollar awards, usually for a person's subjective and immeasurable pain and suffering, at a level that far exceeds an amount that reasonably compensates a person for an injury. These awards typically result from a plaintiffs' lawyer's urging the jury to return a specific, extraordinary amount (anchoring) and misleading them to think that level is the norm. Recent Nuclear Verdicts. $1.7 billion verdict (Georgia - 2022). $18.1 million slip-and-fall (Pennsylvania - 2022). Record-setting pain and suffering award upheld in New York (2021). Legislative Activity. Missouri (2022). Oklahoma (2022). West Virginia (2022).
So moving forward, let's discuss nuclear verdicts. As Joan mentioned, I know you all had a webinar on this last year. Nuclear verdicts are awards that exceed $10 million. These are subjective and immeasurable awards for pain and suffering. And they exceed what we would consider a reasonable compensation for a plaintiff's injury.
And one of the tactics that's being used to propel these nuclear verdicts is something called anchoring, which is where plaintiffs' lawyers suggest during trial a very high amount for the damage award. And that then becomes the starting point in the jurors’ mind of what should be awarded in a specific case. Not every state allows anchoring. But those that do, it's having a real impact on the awards that we're seeing.
I just want to point out a few of the recent verdicts, the more egregious ones that we've seen. In Georgia last year, there was a $1.7 billion verdict against Ford. And this really helped propel the state to the top of our list for the first time. Also, in New York, they previously had a de facto cap of $10 million on noneconomic damages. But now we're seeing that cap be blown past in several cases. And just in 2021, a record-setting award of over $20 million was upheld by the state appellate court.
So that de facto cap seems to no longer apply, which is certainly concerning, especially in a state like New York. And then, finally, last year, there was an $18.1 million verdict in a simple slip-and-fall case, which is far larger than anything we'd seen to that point.
Slide, Phantom Damages. The collateral source rule keeps important information relevant to the determination of damages from reaching the jury. It allows plaintiffs to be compensated twice for the same injury. Solution: Permit the admissibility of evidence of collateral source payments at trial or requiring awards to be offset by the amount paid to plaintiffs by collateral sources, less the amount paid by the plaintiff to secure the benefit. Recent Legislative Successes. Florida - H.B. 8 37 (2023). Montana - S.B. 2 51 (2021). Iowa - S.F. 2 3 3 8 (2020).
Moving on, I want to discuss another type of damages that we're seeing inflate these costs, and they're called phantom damages. Because of collateral source rules in many states, the juries aren't hearing relevant information for determining damages. Specifically, they're only hearing evidence of the initially invoiced amount of medical expenses, what can also be called the sticker price. And, oftentimes, the sticker price is three or four times more than the amount that was actually paid, whether it was paid by an insurance company or the plaintiff themself or another program.
And so this large gap between the actually paid amount and the billed amount is-- there's a large gap between those, and it creates a windfall for the plaintiffs. Medical damages also are the basis oftentimes for noneconomic damage awards. And they equate to three to five times medical expenses. So if you're using the billed amount for those medical expenses and then multiplying that by three to five times, you can have a very real impact on the outcome of the case and on the final damage award.
Plaintiffs' lawyers are inflating these damage awards by ordering excess medical tests, really trying to drive up those medical costs because then in the end, they receive larger contingency fees. There is a legislative fix to this issue, basically legislation to ensure that jurors receive accurate information on the actual value of those medical services. And over the past few years, we've seen a few states adopt this type of approach, most recently, this year, Florida with House Bill 837, which we'll touch on later in the program. Montana passed a very strong bill in 2021 and then Iowa previously.
Slide, Serial Plaintiffs and "No-Injury" Litigation. Litigation Targets. Americans with Disabilities Act. Food & Beverage/Consumer Protection. Prop-65 (California). Biometric Information Privacy Act (Illinois).
Moving on, I want to briefly talk about this trend of serial plaintiffs and no-injury litigation. We're seeing lawyers recruit plaintiffs to file hundreds of the same cases against many different businesses regarding certain topics in different states. And basically, you have these aggressive bounty hunter plaintiffs that are searching for payouts despite never suffering any injuries.
You're seeing this a lot with Americans with Disabilities Act targeting small businesses. The plaintiffs have no intention of visiting these establishments. And they're suing over slight nitpicks-- technical nitpicks and forcing companies into settlement. Many are going bankrupt as a result of this. You're also seeing it in the food and beverage industry with slack-filled lawsuits where plaintiffs said there's too much air in their bag of potato chips or with natural flavoring and vanilla flavoring specifically has been a hot topic saying that they're not using natural vanilla in their flavoring.
You're also seeing this in California with regards to their Prop 65 litigation. Maybe things aren't properly labeled. You have plaintiffs there filing close to a hundred of the same lawsuits against companies.
And then, finally, in Illinois, Biometric Information Privacy Act litigation is a very big issue there currently. They're filing lawsuits over statutory nitpicks. Company didn't comply properly with a portion of the statute, like, for example, providing written notice of how they collected their data. And then plaintiffs are filing these lawsuits.
Slide, Forum Shopping. Plaintiff-friendly judges in Judicial Hellholes have made a habit of swinging open the courtroom doors to out-of-state plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' lawyers target jurisdictions with a propensity for high damage awards, low expert evidence standards and low barriers of entry. This policy clogs courts, drains judicial resources, and drives businesses out of the state leading to job loss. Recent Developments. Pennsylvania Supreme Court eliminates medical liability venue rule (2022).
Moving on, forum shopping is another big issue that we see in these Judicial Hellholes because plaintiffs' lawyers want to bring their cases in the most friendly jurisdictions, and courts in the Hellholes are swinging open their door to out-of-state plaintiffs. They're not following U.S. Supreme Court precedent on when a case should be heard in proper jurisdiction. And the plaintiffs obviously are seeking to take advantage of courts that have a reputation for high damage awards and low barriers of entry, low standards of expert evidence.
We saw this most recently in Philadelphia and in Pennsylvania last year. Their Pennsylvania Supreme Court eliminated their medical liability venue rule that was previously enacted to address the health care crisis there. They eliminated that rule this past year.
And as a result, plaintiffs' lawyers are going to be able to flood very friendly courts in Philadelphia with this litigation. And it won't be filed in the proper venue.
The slideshow disappears. Alexia joins the video call.
That concludes my initial remarks. I'm going to hand it over to Alexia to discuss third-party litigation finance and others.
ALEXIA CRUZ: Thanks, Lauren. That was great information. And it's great to be back here a year later talking about what we can do and what's going on in the environment. So I thought I'd continue the dialog Lauren started and dig a little deeper into one of the drivers of social inflation that's become a hot topic in the industry as of late, third-party litigation funding.
So I'm going to talk a little bit about what it is, why we as a society should care and the effort to bring transparency to the process. So if you think about litigation funding, think about it as a third-party investment and financial stake in the outcome of a lawsuit. And these can involve large-scale commercial suits or low-dollar bodily injury cases. And you might think why should we care? It's an investment, and it seems like they're getting pretty strong returns.
Well, according to a 2021 Swiss Re Institute study, they reported that $17 billion in capital was committed by litigation-- third-party litigation funders. And more than 50% of that occurred in the U.S. And they estimate that could reach upwards of $31 billion by 2028. So a lot of money at stake here and a lot of money being injected into litigation finance.
I do want to break this down a bit because we use litigation finance in a couple of contexts. And there's different types of it that are impacting our ability to fund our suits. So there's commercial funding.
Think of that as an investment firm that's supplying capital to hedge funds, supplying capital to a large-scale business dispute. That could be the mass torts, class actions, product liability, big intellectual property cases that you see in the news. And that's in exchange for a payment based on the legal outcome of the case. So they're going to put up front money. And they're going to get back their money and then some at the conclusion of the case.
Then there's consumer funding, and there's two types of consumer funding we see on a regular basis. One is direct loans to the plaintiff in a personal injury case. So this is just a nonrecourse loan that they provide with a security interest in the settlement or judgment. And this is where we are seeing a rising increase usage of this. And the interest rates that are charged are uncapped in some circumstances, unregulated. So there's been a lot of discussion about that.
Then we see the medical financing consumer funding loans. And those are long-term expenses for medical providers-- that medical providers are given. And they get a financial stake in the outcome of the case. So a plaintiff’s attorney may tell an injured party do not put your medical bills through insurance. That means the hospitals and medical providers will charge a larger amount. And this finance company will cover those costs and then get it back if there's a resolution of the case with interest rates upwards of 20 to 30%.
So litigation funding along with attorney advertising, plaintiff trial strategies, changing jury attitudes, strength of the plaintiff bar, infusion of capital, all of this bolsters the tort litigation environment. It can have a real impact on the claim cost by creating longer cycle times, higher settlement demands and higher verdicts. So really need to guard against this increasing usage in particular in our most challenging jurisdictions like New York and Florida.
There's also ethical considerations that need to be explored here and the impact, particularly on the injured party and the plaintiffs. So a big, obvious one, is there a conflict of interest? If this company, these investors have an interest in the outcome of a case, how can this be impartial? Will it impact the plaintiff's ability to settle a case for a reasonable amount in a reasonable amount of time? Whose interests are being served here, the investors, or the injured party, or the injured plaintiff in whatever way they're injured? So we have to think about those when we think about the solution.
Consumer protection issues-- I had mentioned some of the high interest rates that are being charged. And so this with a lack of transparency regarding the repayment of terms, we are seeing plaintiffs owe money at the end of a case as opposed to receive money for their injuries. And that's not serving the consumer in a responsible way.
Consumer loans can drive longer cycle times and result in higher overall litigation costs and potential for longer duration of medical treatment in the litigation process. So these loans are being utilized in the health industry, as I mentioned, for medical costs. And they're driving up the medical costs as well as the treatment and serving the investors and the plaintiffs’ attorneys, in particular, who make sure to get their share at the end of the resolution.
And these agreements-- just remember the agreements are between the plaintiff and not the attorneys. So it is the injured party plaintiff who owes the money at the end of the case. They cannot be between the attorney and the investor.
So that's an important piece here because there is some question of does this ever result in the unethical practice of law at some point if it is a connection to the attorney? So a lot of discussion in this area. But we are not able to get copies of these agreements in a lot of times. So that is hindering our ability to understand really what are the real issues going on here in the cases and who is it really serving.
So in the commercial space, there's also a growing concern that foreign governments or companies may invest in these lawsuits to access intellectual property and sensitive information. And that was reported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report entitled “The New Threat: The National Security Risk of Third-Party Litigation Funding.” And they went so far to say by investing in specific cases, in portfolio cases, or through crowdfunded litigation financing, foreign governments or companies may seek to fund, encourage and control U.S. litigation in a manner that harms U.S. companies in critical sectors, accesses sensitive information or can influence U.S. domestic policies. So that's a big concern.
And that would be an investment maybe in a patent case. And we don't even know, do they have access to the evidence? Are they involved in the handling of the case? And a lot of the agreements have access. Some don't.
So what do we really want to do here? And what can we do as an industry? So the state and federal court rules vary regarding whether these funding agreements need to be disclosed or are discoverable in litigation. Several federal district courts require disclosure of any entity with a financial interest in the outcome of the case. So we are able to learn more in those jurisdictions and obtain a copy of the agreement so we understand if it is impacting the ability to resolve a case and who's really getting served in these situations.
So one of the major solutions that I think we're making some progress on is transparency. Focus on identification of the funding agreements, in claims and suits. Bolstering disclosure and discovery in the litigated cases. And this will enhance our data collection industry partnership.
So I think we've made a little progress in this area. We have to make more so we can fully understand what's going on. But certainly, a major injection that's come in the last couple of years that's garnered a lot of attention because it is impacting our ability to resolve cases for a reasonable amount in a timely fashion. So I think that's all I'm going to say at this point. I'll turn it back to Joan.
All three women appear on the video call.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, well, Lauren, Alexia, that was just fantastic, a nice high-level overview to get us all level set in what we're dealing with in today's litigation environment. So we're going to dig deep in lots of these topics that you touched on. But, first, everyone knows I like to ask the audience a few questions to get them engaged and find out kind of their level of knowledge.
So I'm going to ask two polling questions today. And the first one is going to be how much does social inflation cost each U.S. resident per year? So this is per person. How much does social inflation cost each U.S. resident per year? And I'm going to get the answer, but you guys can guess first.
- Looks like the last two categories are the most popular here, or 784 bucks. It's actually the last answer. It's $1,425 per person because of social inflation.
So let's go to the next question for our audience. How much was spent on attorney advertising in the United States in 2022? How much total overall advertising spend-- you see it all the time driving down the highway on these huge billboards asking people to call them when they have the accident or the crash. So the answer here in this category is actually $187 million-plus is spent every year on-- or at least in 2022 on advertising. So that's a lot of dough.
Lauren, I want to go to you first. The report that you do every year, the ATRA Foundation puts out, it's called Judicial Hellholes. And that makes a pretty strong statement.
Can you give us some of the background on the report? How long have you been doing it? And how do you actually identify these locations? What are some of the criteria you use to have a No. 1, and a No. 2, and No. 3? And, obviously, you're calling out certain counties in some states specifically. So give us the history of the report, and how do you decide?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Certainly. So the report has been-- we just released this past December our 21st report. So we celebrated the 20th edition two years ago. And that was a big milestone. We basically spend the whole year doing outreach to membership local defense firms, those on the ground in these jurisdictions listening to some of their examples of lawsuit abuse, hearing about what's occurring on the ground there. And we compile all this information and then take a look at where are the outliers, which states are really off the rails and handling things in ways that other places are not.
That's how we comprise the list. We take a look at emerging trends, which states are on the cutting edge allowing an expansion of liability that's not being seen in other places. And then we also take a look-- we did make some changes and took a look at legislatures as well, which states are enacting laws that will expand liability or adopting innovative new theories of liability. And we will highlight those legislatures as well.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. Thank you for that. So, Alexia, you talked about this. But what specific type of claims are responsible for these-- for a lot of these large jury verdicts we've been seeing recently? Tell us about the actual claim type.
ALEXIA CRUZ: So for sure, commercial trucking cases. So we've seen that not just in Texas but in other locations, some recent ones in Texas. But commercial trucking has been one that's been a huge driver in the entire, I think, commercial auto industry. Product liability cases-- they led the way in nuclear verdicts. And they continue to receive larger verdicts. Medical malpractice, medical liability-- that's been a hot area. Employment law-- we've seen a couple there with the #MeToo movement on the rise.
And within some of those buckets, wrongful death cases, negligence security cases. And that goes into that theme of profits over safety. So those are the premises liability cases and certainly defective products. I would say those are among some of the top-- and I don't want to exclude intellectual property cases because those, in particular, can get very high depending on the issue at stake in the litigation.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, great. Let's dig in a little more to the pre-litigation drivers, the increasing legal costs that we're seeing. So advertising, Lauren, is something plaintiffs' lawyers have used with great success to find favorable facts and favorable claims and fact patterns and take them to trial. So you've looked extensively at this, the impact of legal advertising. What are some trends, and what are you finding?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: So the question that we just had plays right into this. And while-- that 188 million was spent last year strictly on national network and cable television. And then trial lawyers were spending hundreds of millions of dollars more on local advertising, specifically in those jurisdictions where they're looking to file lawsuits and to be particularly active.
Last year, they spent the most in Florida. No surprise probably to those of you on the phone. And Florida actually enacted legislation. Well, it hasn't been signed yet. But the legislature just passed legislation to curb this misleading and deceptive advertising, specifically with regards to medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
What you'll see with the trends is that the trial lawyer-- the advertising helps lay the groundwork for future litigation. So you can track where the plaintiffs' lawyers are looking to go by where they're spending, and what are they spending on? What types of ads are they running? Is it against a certain pharmaceutical drug? Is it a medical device? You've seen a lot with Camp Lejeune. And so that shows the trends and what they're focusing on at that moment.
It's having very real and scary impacts on consumers as well because a recent FDA study showed that people are being scared and not taking their medicine because of these advertisements, which is having a very dangerous impact. Unfortunately, some people have died because of this or had suffered massive strokes and heart attacks. There's a real public health and public safety issue with regards to these advertisements, which is why many of the states are looking to enact legislation to help curb it in the medical area specifically.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. Thank you for that. So the 187, just to be clear, that's just national television and cable news advertising. It doesn't include the billboards then?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: It does not include the billboards. It's just strictly national network and cable television ads.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow, OK. Thank you for that. Alexia, let's go back to you because you talked about the third-party litigation funding and how it can drive up the verdicts here. There’s also-- some people say there could be national security risks that come into play as well with the third-party funding. Tell us about that.
ALEXIA CRUZ: I did mention the report by the ILR, which I thought was great. That's the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, “The New Threat: National Security Risk of Third-Party Litigation Funding.” That went more in-depth on the potential issues we may be facing with some of these foreign governments and foreign companies.
If they're investing in cases, which we're aware we have some participation, but they can use the third-party litigation financing agreements, and contracts, and involvement in a case to target and access sensitive information. It could be intellectual property. It could be inventions. It could just to get particular information. It could be to be disruptive. But they will have access to information in a case if they have an interest-- a financial interest in a case.
That's why it is so critical that we understand if there is a litigation financing or funding agreement involved in a case so we can understand what access these individuals, or companies, or foreign parties have to the information available. And I did see in the question about does the defendant-- are they entitled to know? No, they're not entitled to know and a lot of courts who have said it's not relevant. You don't need to-- you can’t discover-- you can't access it. Then the defendant will not know if there is a funding agreement in place or what the terms are. So they will not know who has access to that information.
They could be compromising privilege where you wouldn't know unless you were able to access the agreement. So there's going to be more work on this and focus. The possibilities are disturbing that could be going on because you don't know, especially with the crowdsourced funding, who is an investor, who isn't an investor.
A judge could be an investor. There could be conflicts. Because if you think about Burford Capital and some of the investment returns they have, they're huge. It could be 30% investment returns, a lot of people could be investing, and that is not disclosed at this point in most jurisdictions.
JOAN WOODWARD: Most jurisdiction, OK. Alexia, I'm going to stay with you for a minute because we talked about a Sedgwick report found that claimants are bringing in legal counsel much more often. They're engaging them earlier in the process. And this wasn't the case 20, 30 years ago.
So how is the insurance industry responding to these trends where there might be a minor incident and a person just feels the need to get counsel when the insurance industry may have in the past been able to settle or take on that claim without the person having a lawyer on the team? Tell us that trend and what you're seeing.
ALEXIA CRUZ: So the Sedgwick study mentions that in 2017 just under 43% of auto liability and general liability claims that ultimately would have become litigated already had an attorney rep, a representation in place within 24 hours of a claim being reported. But by the end of 2022, the percentages had risen to over 57% for auto liability and 51% for general liability. So this causes severity to grow and increase, including the litigation costs because now you're having an attorney in place within 24 hours of the claim in a situation where in the past we would have just resolved the claim maybe without an attorney or in short term.
But now with the attorney involvement, the average cost of claims with attorney representation, according to this report, said it was 14.3 times higher than the average cost of claims closed in 2019 without an attorney. So you can imagine the impact if some of these numbers are correct. So that is coming from the U.S. commercial auto-- in the report, they're quoting the trends in attorney representation U.S. commercial auto insurance report by Milliman. But that's part of the Sedgwick report.
The cost of litigation claims continue to increase at a rate exceeding normal inflation and market conditions bolstered by social inflation, growing third-party litigation financing, nuclear verdicts and class action lawsuits. And they discuss that in the report. And as Lauren mentioned, higher claim costs are ultimately paid by the consumers.
So in the 2021 Swiss Re Institute report I mentioned, the higher-- they report that the higher claims costs drive up insurance premiums, reduce the availability of liability coverage and lead to higher uninsured legal liability risks. And these costs are ultimately paid by the consumers. They also mention that plaintiffs often do not see the benefit of the higher rewards as they estimate up to 57% of the third-party litigation funding involve tort costs to lawyers, funders and others. So if you think about that, the majority of the settlement or the amount paid is going to the funders, and attorneys, and expenses as opposed to the person who’s actually allegedly injured. So really, really disturbing information.
JOAN WOODWARD: Yeah. OK, Lauren, back to you and your report. Until fairly recently, the multidistrict litigation, or MDLs, was a little-known tool out there in the federal courts they could use-- they use it to save time by consolidating lawsuits on similar issues. So in your report, it's now being used it seems to overwhelm defendants, forcing them to settle like for a king's ransom, and some of these settlements are declaring bankruptcy. So can you give us some insight of what went wrong potentially with the MDL idea?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Yes, so the MDL, multidistrict litigation, is part of what we're now calling the mass tort machine. And this machine has become a multibillion-dollar industry for the plaintiffs' lawyers. We're seeing law firms and businesses are spending millions of dollars on advertising, receiving some of this financing from third parties to use it at the outset to scare consumers and encourage them to file these claims and to fill the MDLs.
They also-- the plaintiffs' bar will pedal misinformation and use the media to get out junk science that then taints the public's perception. And judges in Judicial Hellholes will then allow that junk science to come into their courtrooms. And so the defendants already know that they're going to be facing an uphill battle.
Then the trial bar is able to exploit these procedural advantages that are in the MDL. And they flood the MDL with thousands of claims knowing that's impossible for the judges and the defendants to go through each of these claims to make sure that they're legitimate, to make sure that the plaintiffs actually did use their product or that a medical condition isn't from another cause. And so once these cases are filed and then consolidated, they don't have certain protections that are available to them in single trials.
And so these businesses and defendants now face two options. Do they file for bankruptcy, or do they settle as you said for a king's ransom? And those are really two choices that no one wants to face. But it's what's happening with this MDL situation right now.
Currently 70% of all cases pending in federal courts are part of an MDL. And that skyrocketed from just 10 years ago when it was only 30%. So it's going to continue to rise. And they're going to leverage the MDLs to force defendants' hands.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow. OK. Those are amazing numbers. It went from 30 to 70 in just 10 years, you said.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Yes.
JOAN WOODWARD: Alexia, back to you. With all these tools that the plaintiffs are leveraging, do you think we're going to see a propensity for settlements-- high-risk settlements? Might that impact-- what does that impact on litigation going forward then?
ALEXIA CRUZ: There's a big impact. I'd love to see that there isn't going to be an increased propensity for settling cases and not trying the cases we really should try because we don't feel like we have any liability. But the reality is with not knowing how large the verdicts are going to go-- you have jurisdictions where they have uncapped or they have noneconomic damages that are uncapped or looser requirements for punitive damages.
There are entities in the industry that are settling cases that they probably would have tried as we figure out is there going to be responses from the legislature in the states to control some of this? And trying to figure out what is a reasonable amount to settle if these verdicts continue to come out is going to be challenging. So when you think about the price of litigation going forward, you have a longer cycle time. You have more money in funding the case so that they can have more experts and more discovery. And it takes more time. All of that drives costs up.
And also, what is the value of the case if one carrier is willing to pay this amount, another carrier is paying this amount in the settlement the same as the trial verdict? So I think it's an interesting time. And I would encourage everyone to pay cases you think you owe on; try the cases you think you should try.
And that's honestly what we should be doing. But the reality is we're in this environment that we're trying to figure out, and there's all these different factors that Lauren and I are talking about that are influencing people's decision on whether to settle or not that sometimes have nothing to do with the reasonable value of the case right now.
JOAN WOODWARD: So, Alexia, I want you to take us inside of the courtroom, maybe dust off your litigator hat for a moment with us. What are the tactics that some of these attorneys are using to drive up these costs? And could you explain, quote unquote, "the reptile theory" and how it's really used in the courtroom?
ALEXIA CRUZ: Sure. The reptile theory is one of probably their successful strategies that we've seen time and time again in a lot of different types of cases. But essentially, it's appealing to that reptilian part of your brain, the flight or fight, the fear element. So when I mentioned the themes of profit over safety, that's a favorite one from the plaintiffs' bar. It's really telling a jury, scaring them, that they're not safe and appealing to that reptilian part of the brain that they should be concerned, and it's their duty to protect society.
So a lot of times, unfortunately, it's not about what your insured did according to the law and the safety standards of the code. It's what could they have done? Could they have done something more? Could they have made things more safe? And that is an effective strategy that we've seen used in the courtroom, especially appealing to jurors in many jurisdictions.
JOAN WOODWARD: Lauren, we have a number of questions coming in in the Q&A feature here from our audience. They want to know what anchoring is. Can you explain what anchoring is and how it's used in the courtroom?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Certainly. So anchoring is another tactic that the trial lawyers are using to drive up the damage awards. And basically, during trial, they will suggest a high number that the jury should award their client. And this number becomes the starting point in the juror’s mind during deliberation.
And there have been psychological studies that really show the true impact this is having. And they've looked at what are the suggested numbers, and where are the final verdicts? And the higher the suggested number, the higher the verdict even in cases with very similar facts.
So it's not allowed in every state. That is a legislative fix. States can pass bills sort of disallowing this practice. But where it is allowed, for example, Georgia and New York, those are two of the states you're seeing the highest verdicts come out because they're able to use this tactic.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. So we talked about anchoring. We talked about the reptile theory. Those are two kind of examples of the tactics. From a public policy standpoint, which I always like to think about, are there limits to how high these jury awards can actually go in these states? Lauren, maybe take that one.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Certainly. I mean, some states do have caps on noneconomic damages in certain instances, medical liability cases and others. So that does help rein in some of these awards. But in states where they don't have them, limits on damages is a very heavy lift even for very pro-business legislators. So it's difficult to get across the line. And even in states where they have enacted them, they're often challenged in courts for constitutionality.
JOAN WOODWARD: So, folks, we spent 41 minutes talking about the problem. We actually think there's some solutions, and there's some opportunities in these states. So I want to get into the solution part of our conversation.
So, Alexia, I'm going to go to you. States like Florida, Wisconsin, West Virginia have enacted tort reform recently obviously, lots of activity down in Florida. Can you provide us some insights on what these new laws can do? Do you see momentum picking up for other states that may be on Lauren's list today? So give us a quick rundown of some of these more recent, especially Florida-- I guess people are putting a lot in the Q&A about that.
ALEXIA CRUZ: Sure. I mean, Florida-- I guess it's a great story. And then on the eve of the tort reform being passed, the plaintiffs' attorneys filed a whole pile of lawsuits to make sure that the old law could apply. So we're addressing that. So we probably won't see the impact of the positive tort reform for a little bit as we work through the older cases or the ones that were filed before the legislation came into effect.
So for those of you who didn't hear, Florida passed some great liability tort reform that actually caps some property tort reform. We won't talk about that today. But the liability one, it should in theory help a lot.
So we have a repeal of the one-way attorney fee, meaning that for a lot of years, there was a lot of incentive for a plaintiff’s attorney to just bring these little suits, frivolous suits over and over again because they could be awarded their attorney's fees. And it was driving the litigation numbers to be very high and the GDP impact in Florida to continue to increase. And that was clogging the courthouses. And the person that was benefiting was always the plaintiff’s attorney in these cases.
There’s also a limited-- we've reduced the statute of limitations for general negligence from four to two years. We've modified the bad faith framework. So you actually have a chance to respond. You have 90 days after receipt of the claim. You have to get sufficient evidence to respond before they can claim there was bad faith.
And then negligence alone will not support a bad faith claim. I'm just touching on a few things. I didn't even mention the moving the negligence standard. So that was a big-- I'm just trying to hit some of the highlights. Lauren, what did I miss? Half of these things-- I'm trying to make sure I don't--
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: I would also include the phantom damages provision which requires that the juries be informed about cost-- the actual cost of medical treatments to eliminate phantom damages.
ALEXIA CRUZ: For years, they can put in what's billed, not actually paid. So this will really help in Florida. Again, it's going to take some time for us to see the impact. And then shortly thereafter, Montana did pass some very favorable tort reform, which is exciting as well. So good for Montana. And then go ahead, Lauren, I think [INAUDIBLE].
I was just going say on the Montana bill, it's probably not a state that's on top of many companies’ list. But what we found is that things that are being done in Montana are then positive things, are then being exported to other states. And it's being used as a model. We saw that with phantom damages. And so it's good that that's happening there because then we can use that to propel efforts in other states.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, great. So I want to talk about the role of data and analytics and artificial intelligence. We just had a webinar, if you missed it, on ChatGPT about a month ago.
So go back and look at the replay of the ChatGPT use cases for the insurance industry on travelersinstitute.org where we house all of our replays. But, Alexia, how do you think AI or data and analytics play in the process to kind of understand how a claim might have the potential to kind of be a nuclear verdict? Is there any work being done there?
ALEXIA CRUZ: Yeah, I think there's a lot of opportunity there in ChatGPT or some kind of AI-- generative AI could be a game changer there. But before that started exploding, just even identifying cases that could potentially be a nuclear verdict. So whether you're looking at the type of loss, the type of injury, the particular plaintiff’s attorney on the other side or even the amount of policy when that's available, those could be triggers so that people could think, OK, these are cases that have that potential to be a nuclear verdict. We may want to take a look at these or assign them to a different level of handling if we think that.
So those are options I think everybody has at this point. I think identifying it early in the process is important so that you decide if you're going to settle or defend a case. And then you obviously plan accordingly.
So I really get excited about the potential of these data and analytics tools right now. All the information in state and federal court is publicly available on judges, the rulings, the motions, the attorneys. So there are endless possibilities of what you could do with that information as a predictive model even in the most complex cases. So I think there should be a lot more dialogue and thought around the use of data and analytics in the future of these complex litigation.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, great. So I want to talk to our producers. We have a lot of agents and brokers on our call today.
What advice do you have-- maybe, Lauren, you want to take this, and we'll get Alexia too. What advice do you have for our producers, and agent, and brokers in advising their clients, their customers, risk management, loss control? What can they do? Give them some practical tips in helping their customers.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Alexia, I'm probably going to hand this over to you, might be better suited to answer that question.
ALEXIA CRUZ: I have a great tip. So I talked about profits over safety. The most important thing you can possibly do for your client is encourage them to put in safety protocols but even more importantly to follow them.
So if you're going to put in place safety protocols or processes, if they do not follow them, that is one of the largest triggers we've seen for juries to get inflamed and upset. I talked about the reptile theory where they make up additional things you could do outside of your procedures or the law you're bound by. This is-- these at your own procedures. So when you don't follow them, we're finding that really does inflame jurors. So I always say put them in place but also make sure to follow them.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, great advice. Lauren, back to you. One reaction to hearing about all this massive jury verdicts is that you keep hearing these defendants have deep pockets, and they can handle these verdicts.
So taken in the aggregate, we know it is a tax on consumers, a tax on all of us. So what's being done to kind of tell that story out there in the media maybe or obviously your report shines a light on this? Tell us about what can be done here.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Well, that's the purpose of our Judicial-- or one of the purposes of our Judicial Hellholes report is to shine a light on the abuses and get them out there and also have business owners talk about the impacts, talk about how it's impacting their businesses and then I think most importantly the tax that's being passed on to the consumers. The average person doesn't think that they care about this, that they don't think that they're being affected by it. But then when they hear about the tort tax paying over $1,000 a year or $4,000 per household, that can start to get them to care.
So I think getting that story out there as well that this impacts everyone. It's driving up the cost of goods in a time when we already had inflation. This is another added inflation to the price of goods. And if-- we found if legal reforms are enacted and lawsuit abuse is driven down, then that will help with those costs. And so I think just getting that message out is important.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, terrific. So now we're going to go to audience questions. We got a lot of them, almost 60 came in. We actually encourage you-- if you're interested in asking questions of our panelists, put it in your registration because if we have it kind of early on, we can address it.
And I do a shoutout to David Cain, who did that. He's at the Hodge Agency. David asked when a plaintiff is truly injured, is it not less costly to settle upfront rather than taking it to the court system? So, Alexia, how about that one for you?
ALEXIA CRUZ: Yes, absolutely. We don't have a choice a lot nowadays. We have knowledge, in particular in Florida, that there is higher contingency fees charged by the plaintiffs’ attorneys if it's in litigation versus not in litigation. So there's incentive to file litigation quickly. I think any carrier in the industry just wants to evaluate a case, get the information, and pay what they think they owe as soon as possible to help the plaintiff.
But we can't control if an attorney comes in, slows things down, files litigation right away. We have no choice but to defend it. So I would love to keep more of this out of litigation so that we can really put the money in the hands of the injured party and not more in the hands of the other individuals in the case.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, good. Another question coming in from Debbie Weiser. Shout out to Debbie, a former colleague at Travelers. Why do you think the plaintiffs' bar is so much more organized than the defense bar? What could the industry do about it?
ALEXIA CRUZ: They have a lot more money, economic incentive. So if they can get verdicts like this and get paid, say, 40% contingency fee, when it used to be-- I thought it used to be 33%. They are making a lot of money and reinvesting. They are-- I saw in the question chat they are investing in the judiciary. So they're putting their own candidates forward to be state judges where they can and funding those campaigns. They have the money to do it.
They also are funding senator, House seats to influence the legislation and have their own lobbyists. So there's a lot of money being thrown away-- thrown around and put strategically not just in advertising but in key areas that serve them well and help them keep the legislation-- that keeps everything uncapped. And they're able to get the nuclear verdicts.
So what can we do? We can put money to counter it. That's one thing. We can also do what we're already doing is to work with industry groups to challenge the legislation and make changes and really try to educate people on the impact of some of these legislative changes or lack of legislative changes. So there's things we can do. But definitely an economic incentive for the plaintiffs’ attorneys here. And, Lauren, I don't know if you agree.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Yeah, absolutely. And I think also it's important for different industries to band together to support reforms or to support defensive efforts because even if it may not directly impact your specific industry, it affects all of us. It affects everyone. And so it's important for all of us to come together, the different businesses, and fight things together to-- we do have less resources, so to merge our resources and just make sure that we're doing a unified front.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. Thank you. Another question coming in from Brian Hall. Is there a way to report any of these nefarious claims and lawsuits? We have a couple coming in completely bogus. Is there like a Better Business Bureau for lawyers out there? Lauren, you want to take that one.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Alexia, you look like you were about to-- not that I know of. I mean, I think you can always challenge the merit of the case in court. But I'm not aware of anything else out there.
ALEXIA CRUZ: You can defend on a malicious prosecution suit. But then you'd have to prove that it was bogus. But it sounds like you may have the evidence for that. So there's legal recourses, but I'm not aware of a consumer place you can report that.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. All right, another question coming in. You can jump in whoever wants to take it. Where are you having the most success in increasing transparency with regard to third-party litigation financing agreements? Is the success coming mostly from the court orders or state public policymakers, legislators?
ALEXIA CRUZ: Well, and, Lauren, jump in. We have some states that the legislation would be easier if it would apply everywhere. So when we've had some success in the court system, it could be just a particular judge. Like in Delaware, it was one federal judge versus the whole federal court.
So that doesn't quite get to the scale we would like. We continue to be aggressive. And I'm hoping the whole industry is about using discovery to get the information and challenge the judges and get the rulings so that we can obtain these agreements. That's a slower process than changing the legislation.
So there was a good-- Montana, part of their legislation was the disclosure of third-party litigation funding. So we have had some successes. It looks like you are not permitted-- you're actually not permitted in Pennsylvania, North Carolina-- I'm looking at some of these studies. But the disclosure-- it looks like we have only a handful of states that will require the disclosure.
Now they may allow the disclosure through discovery. But that’s a-- it's a longer process. So we have some work to do. We've made little progress here and there. I know in Illinois they had a disclosure on the consumer loans so that they would disclose the interest rates.
So there was a little bit of a victory there. But this week, Illinois is passing a really bad punitive damage legislation that looks like the governor will sign that could be tacked on to your wrongful death cases. So, again, we grab a little lever in Florida, and then we have Illinois come out there. And New York has a currently pending wrongful death legislation that would be unfavorable to the industry as well.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. Thank you. Another question coming in, Bob Nighan. Hi, Bob. Does the presence of a Judicial Hellhole label dampen business investment or retention in that area is a very, very good question. So, are businesses leaving?
I mean, you've been doing this study for 20 years, Lauren. And have you seen a trend that maybe their economies have not flourished because of their litigation environment? Is there a correlation?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: There is. And I think we've seen businesses leave states specifically because of lawsuit abuse. And we've seen it in Louisiana with the energy industry. They've lost jobs. They've moved because of all the coastal litigation that was going on down there.
We've also seen being labeled a Judicial Hellhole working the other way though. For example, Governor DeSantis mentioned it in a lot of his remarks this year that he didn't want to be known as a Judicial Hellhole anymore. And these reforms were necessary to stop the lawsuit abuse.
A similar situation happened in West Virginia. It was used by the Senate president there as sort of a catalyst for change. So I think certain legislators understand what a Judicial Hellhole is and why they don't want to be one. And I think they understand that there is an economic impact on their states and their economies. And they want to remove that label from their state.
JOAN WOODWARD: Great, great, great question. This is a definition question. But I think it's good to hear it. Colleen Peck. Would you please explain the difference between social inflation and economic inflation? So I think most people understand what economic inflation is, when gas prices go up or housing prices, economic. How do you define social inflation, Alexia?
ALEXIA CRUZ: Just to simplify it, there are things going on in the society and around us that are impacting the cost of claim, the cost of insurance. And so it's been defined a couple of different ways. There's actually a lot of discussion on the definition. But I simplify it and say there's different societal factors that are increasing the cost of the claim in this environment. I think that's the simplest one in the current environment.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, thank you. Maybe this is for Lauren. It's coming in from Jennifer Real. Do you see a difference among various age groups in the attorney representation or self-representation statistics?
Are there people more comfortable dealing with insurance companies maybe if they're able to do some legal research online? Are you seeing a trend? Do older people more likely get represented, younger people? How do you slice and dice it?
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: That's not actually something we've looked into. I don't know, Alexia, if you have some data on that. We’ve never-- it's a really interesting question.
JOAN WOODWARD: Yeah, it is.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: We haven't dug into that aspect.
ALEXIA CRUZ: Yeah. And then there's a changing environment with how people want to communicate as well. So I think I'm aware of certain studies that looked at it in the past.
But I think you'd have to look at it again in the current environment with all the technology because even if you're reaching out to someone to see if they would like to handle the case differently or really don't want to work with an attorney, is technology going to give a comfort level to a different generation? That could factor in. Or is somebody in the older generation like mine where you have attorneys or you've been exposed to more, are you more comfortable handling it yourself? I think it could work both ways. And it's a tricky-- it'd have to be carefully done I think to get it right and to have a [AUDIO OUT].
JOAN WOODWARD: OK. Last question for whoever wants to take it from Jessica Foscolo. What can be done to combat the anti-insurance messaging permeating this advertising and contributing to these nuclear verdicts? I mean, what can our industry do or what have we done? Or maybe it's not working. But it seems like all the comments coming in-- this should just be outlawed. And what can we do to combat the anti-insurance messaging?
ALEXIA CRUZ: Have Lauren talk at more things about the tort tax. And I think it's important to educate people on the impact and where the money is going.
JOAN WOODWARD: Of course.
ALEXIA CRUZ: I don't think people know that. And I think that would be helpful. It's hard to throw that out there and have people believe you. But I think Lauren's work is very important to that goal.
JOAN WOODWARD: Absolutely.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: As I mentioned, where you can partner with other industries, small businesses-- partnering with other groups, I think, is important too to have, like I said, a unified message and show, as Alexia mentioned, just the impact it's having on everyone.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, terrific. We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much to both of you, Alexia and Lauren. Really, really great work. And I know you're still going to be working on it in the future. So we'll have you back to discuss maybe next year's report. Really appreciate it.
Slide, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Register: travelersinstitute.org. Upcoming Programs: Webinars. June 7 - The How and Why of D&I with Travelers' Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. June 14 - Crash and Learn LIVE Edition with I I H S.. June 28 - Advancing Disability Inclusion in the Workplace.
LAUREN SHEETS JARRELL: Thank you.
JOAN WOODWARD: So now I want to just talk for a few minutes about our upcoming programming. On June 7th, I'm going to interview our Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Lauren Young. Actually, my colleague is going to interview her, Jessica Kearney, who is our fantastic head of the Travelers Institute, will be interviewing Lauren Young. And she's going to give you tips, and advice, and strategies for your diversity journey at all of your organizations and things that have worked for us, things that may have not worked so well. So she's going to share her ideas and thoughts of where we are in our diversity journey now.
And then on June 14, we're going to be live from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS in rural Virginia. And we're going to do some crash testing. And it's going to be lots of fun. So excuse any glitches we're going to have in technology. We're going to come to you live from IIHS.
And then on June 28, we're going to have a conversation about advancing disability hiring and inclusion in the workplace with diversity-- excuse me, with disability experts in the field, both internal and external.
Slide, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Watch Replays: travelersinstitute.org. Connect. LinkedIn, Joan Kois Woodward. Take Our Survey: Link in chat. #WednesdayswithWoodward.
So visit us at travelersinstitute.org, and watch some of our replays, folks. We're thrilled that you join us every week. And be safe, and we'll see you in a little while.
Text, Travelers Institute (registered trademark). Travelers. travelersinstitute.org.
Lauren Sheets Jarrell, Esq.
Director & Counsel, Civil Justice Policy for the American Tort Reform Association
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