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Stub your toe? Sue somebody!

I have issues with ambulance-chasing lawyers. It’s just wrong to go around suggesting to people who’ve suffered some sort of accidental injury or harm that they should sue someone over it. To hear these lawyers tell it, there’s no such thing as an accident; it has to have been someone’s negligence, someone’s fault, and that someone should be made to pay. And they, the lawyers, seem to have no trouble finding clients who think, hey, sure I know it was an accident, but here’s a chance to make some money by suing someone, somebody with lots of money. They or their insurance company can afford it, right?

For example, there’s an ad about some man who fell off a ladder at work. The attorney is saying that man ought to sue the construction company. But why? The man lost his balance and fell off a ladder. Happens all the time. Nobody from the company was there pushing him off the ladder or pulling his feet out from under him. It wasn’t a cheap ladder with some kind of structural defect. Sometimes accidents just happen. And maybe the man himself was at fault for not positioning the ladder properly or for leaning too far. But there’s that lawyer saying the man should sue somebody anyway.

Here at home, if I trip over a dog toy lying on the floor, it’s because I’m a lousy housekeeper, an inattentive klutz, and a dog owner. I’ve got no grounds to sue the toy maker, the guys who built the house and laid the carpet, or the organization that let me adopt the dog. Maybe I should go after the company that made my slippers because my footing was insecure. That’s the ticket! Sue the slipper manufacturer. Or the company that sold the slippers. Somebody must have been responsible for my fall. And those poor lawyers won’t get any money if I don’t sue somebody. Besides, they’re doing society a service. After all, we’ve got to protect each other from slipshod slipper-makers.

Certainly negligence exists in the world. Certainly negligence and wanton disregard for the safety of others should be punished. Examples should be made, punishment meted out, compensation paid. But lawyers who make a business of drumming up and filing unwarranted “creative” lawsuits by appealing to our worst instincts of greed and revenge, just so they can earn commissions, are truly the dregs of society.

These “stand-up guys” are only standing up for themselves. One well-known local attorney has been sued and sanctioned several times for filing major lawsuits and then, instead of fighting for the maximum settlement for his clients (for amounts he suggested he could win for them), urging them to settle for a minimum amount just so he could collect his fee and move on to the next case. It wasn’t about fighting long and hard for an injured client; it was about settling as many cases (and collecting as many fees) as fast as possible.

As I said in another recent post, such cases clog our courts and make it more difficult for legitimate cases to be heard in a timely manner. They cost all of us in one way or another: lost wages, wasted time, damaged reputations, increased insurance premiums, higher costs for products and services, businesses and services driven out of business or never started at all. You hear all the time about so-and-so being sued; you rarely hear or remember later that so-and-so was exonerated or the case tossed out of court. The mere filing of the suit was enough to damage the reputation.

I’ve never understood why lawyers don’t police their own and disbar or sanction colleagues who behave unethically. They hurt the image of the entire profession.

Having the legal right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do.

1 Comment »

  1. Hey Girl,
    Good rant. The very reasons you cited are why ‘tort reform’ has been on the political table for a long time. Of course, it’s all talk and no action. In a valid personal injury case, I see nothing wrong in suing the offending party. For example a close friend of mine was struck while idling in her car with the other car going 60 miles above the posted speed limit. To date, her medical care has tipped $250,000. That would be a valid lawsuit in my mind. However, the idiot who takes a running hair blower into the shower with them deserves what they get.

    My personal philosophy is that the increase in frivolous and other lawsuits comes from the entitlement mindset. We are inundated daily on how we have a right to this or that and no matter what we don’t have to be personally responsible for our actions. Much as I’d like that to be true on one level – the fact is, there is no free lunch. These lawsuits have a direct impact on cost of goods, additional laws, wasted tax dollars, etc. I mean, how does the public think the sued parties absorb these costs? They pass them onto the consumer and taxpayer, that’s how.

    Good rant.

    Annie 🙂
    Exactly. We have the right to sue, so why shouldn’t we? 🙄

    I fear we’ll never see any tort reform, for the simple reason that most lawmakers are lawyers. They won’t do anything that restricts their colleagues and their profession. And stupid, irresponsible, greedy people will continue to push lawsuits as far as the law allows. So I rant in frustration at the insanity of it all.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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