When asked the question whether there are more or less personal injury cases tried now as compared to ten years ago, most people will answer that there are more. Insurance companies, large corporations, and some politicians have intentionally misled the public that there is a litigation explosion in our country. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A recent New York Times article reported that numerous law journals have reported a decline in both civil and criminal jury trials nationwide. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has been tracking the number of civil trials in state courts since 1992. Their surveys show that the number of civil trials has declined by over 50% between 1992 and 2005. Those numbers have continued to decline.
What are some of the reasons for this decline in jury trials? Many cases are referred to arbitration. If you look at most of the agreements you sign with credit card companies these days, the contracts frequently contain arbitration clauses. This means that if you have a dispute with the credit card company, you cannot sue them in state or federal court. You must have your claim heard before a private arbitrator. The courts favor these arbitration clauses and regularly enforce them, forcing clients to give up their right to a jury trial.