Which states have the best and worst tort systems?

June 16, 2008

To answer this question, Pacific Research Institute (PRI) assessed two aspects of the tort systems of all 50 states: (1) tort liability costs and risks and (2) rules on the books that reduce lawsuit abuse and tort costs-if implemented and enforced. Florida ranked worst in tort costs and litigation risks and North Dakota best, Medical Liability Monitor (3/2008) reported. The worst tort laws were in Rhode Island and the best in Colorado, according to PRI’s Tort Liability Index: 2008 Report.

To answer this question, Pacific Research Institute (PRI) assessed two aspects of the tort systems of all 50 states: (1) tort liability costs and risks and (2) rules on the books that reduce lawsuit abuse and tort costs-if implemented and enforced. Florida ranked worst in tort costs and litigation risks and North Dakota best, Medical Liability Monitor (3/2008) reported. The worst tort laws were in Rhode Island and the best in Colorado, according to PRI’s Tort Liability Index: 2008 Report.

In addition to Florida, worst-ranked states in tort liability costs and risks were New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Montana, and Pennsylvania. As well as North Dakota, highly ranked states included Alaska, North Carolina, Iowa, and Virginia. States at the bottom of the barrel in rules on the books were Vermont, New York, Maryland, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, as well as last-ranked Rhode Island. States with the best overall tort rules were Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, and Michigan, in addition to top-ranked Colorado.

When data on states’ monetary tort losses and litigation risks and tort rules were merged, five states appeared well positioned to contain their future tort liability costs if their rules are implemented as written: Alaska, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah.

The report used 13 variables to measure monetary tort losses and litigation risks and 28 variables to assess rules on the books and other factors that shape litigation outcomes, such as monetary caps and procedural and structural institutions.