Delaware continues to offer the best legal climate for doing business, while West Virginia offers the worst, according to an annual ranking of business-friendly states released this week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.

The annual rankings are based on a nationwide survey of 957 executives on issues ranging from a state's basic litigation costs, to punitive damage reform, unnecessary lawsuits and the speed of the trial process.

Other top-ranked states on this year's list include Nebraska, Maine, Indiana, and Utah.

This is the seventh straight year that Delaware has topped the group's rankings, and the third year West Virginia came in last, below Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Illinois.

Both Florida and New Jersey fell sharply on this year's list. New Jersey dropped nine spots to 35, while Florida dropped six to 42.

"The survey results send a clear message to states whose legal climate drives away businesses, jobs, and economic development. If you want a healthy state economy, clean up your act," Lisa Rickard, the group's president, said in a statement.