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Every day, our expert settlement planners work with people who have filed lawsuits against people or companies that have hurt or wronged them. One thing we know firsthand at Milestone is that there is much more to filing a lawsuit than money. While seeking compensation for the unexpected burden of medical bills and/or other expenses related to the injury or wrongdoing is a vital reason to take action, there is much more that comes into play when one files suit.

First, here are three basic tenets of the American civil justice system:

  1. Accountability: To hold accountable those who have committed wrongdoing.
  2. Deterrence: To deter those who might commit future wrongdoing.
  3. Security: Securing the futures of those who have been affected by crimes.

All three factors are drivers of the civil justice system. Below, we dig a bit deeper into each of the three.


The core theme of accountability can be seen in the “teachable moments” of our nation. President Theodore Roosevelt illustrated this theme in his many speeches that detailed our accountability to ourselves, our neighbors, and our nation. Litigation allows us to hold those responsible when they have committed wrongdoing. It requires them to face those whose lives they have affected and to pay a penalty — both literally or figuratively.


Another key purpose of litigation is the ultimate goal of making our world safer. On the individual level, it encourages us to think about our actions and the implications they will have on those around us. It motivates corporations to return profits to their shareholders and operate without causing harm.

For example, drug and medical device manufacturers like DePuy, Bayer, and many others must take into account the FDA approval process and the potential for consolidated legal action against them, should their product do harm. Litigation creates an example out of those who have committed wrongdoings for those who might do the same in the future, the hope of which is to protect us from similar situations happening in the future.


When justice is achieved in a criminal case, it leads to the incarceration of the defendant. In a civil matter, money is offered to replace the economic losses. Our justice system ensures that those who have suffered are able to meet their long-term needs after the injury or wrongdoing that has occurred. Trial lawyers advocate for the lifelong security of these individuals through financial recoveries.

We have spoken to some people who mistakenly think that all lawsuits are expensive. But many trial lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement, which means they do not take a fee upfront and only get paid if their client wins the case.

The purpose of a lawsuit is not just to hold corporations or people accountable, nor is it only to prevent future wrongdoing from occurring. The purpose of litigation is to do both of these things, while ensuring that the recovery is permanent. Litigation is meant to protect us before, during, and long after the lawsuit. 

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