Small business owners face many challenges – especially here in Illinois where businesses have to deal with onerous regulations, high taxes and fees and a culture of lawsuit abuse.
For example, an owner of a small grocery store told me he often thinks about leaving Illinois and opening up a store in a more business-friendly environment. He said every year his business is the target of litigation.
On one occasion, a woman sued claiming that she had fallen on a wet spot on the floor. After examining security footage, it was discovered that she had taken her foot and dragged it through the water to make it look like she had slipped. In the end, the woman walked away with a $500 check just to make the lawsuit go away. She got $500 for an injury that never even occurred.
The grocery store owner is not the only one who is the victim of lawsuit abuse. More than one third of all small owners have been sued at one time or another and seven in ten small business owners say that a lawsuit would force them to reduce benefits for current employees and would cause them to hold back hiring new ones.
In other words, lawsuits limit job growth and job creation. This is why Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch has launched a statewide tour to focus attention on the challenges small businesses face as a result of lawsuit abuse. Small businesses are too often the victims of lawsuit abuse, and just one abusive lawsuit can mean the difference in whether a business succeeds or fails. The purpose of the summer tour is to raise awareness about how lawsuit abuse hurts small businesses and ultimately hurts the Illinois economy.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. More than two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small business owners. Small businesses cannot afford to absorb unwarranted legal challenges. One lawsuit can put a small business owner out of business.
In 2008, lawsuits cost small businesses more than $105 billion. Imagine the kind of impact that money could have if it was invested in job creation instead of fighting lawsuits. What our country needs is jobs – not more lawsuits.
Illinois is ranked 46th out of 50 states for legal fairness. The unemployment rate in Illinois is 9.1 percent and only Nevada has a higher unemployment rate. But is it any wonder that Illinois has such a high unemployment rate when state leaders continue to ignore the state’s lawsuit abuse problems? Policymakers have a lot of ideas on how to help small businesses, but they too frequently neglect to consider the role of legal reforms in improving our economy.
Illinois needs jobs – not more lawsuits. To find out more about I-LAW’s fight for lawsuit reform, go to www.illawsuitabusewatch.org.