Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Torts and You

I have an observation about a current problem in America and some ideas on what we should be doing to improve the situation.

The abuse of the tort system in our society is both flagrant and widespread. Every accident and unforseen occurrence, no matter how bizarre, has to be somebody's fault, usually somebody with "deep pockets". And this victim mentality has been one of the largest contributors to rising health care costs and manufacturing expenses, where more and more malpractice and liability insurance must be purchased to cover every possible problem that may arise.

NEWS FLASH, AMERICA!! Sometimes, accidents happen. And sometimes, we have to take responsibility for our own contributions to these accidents. If you use illegal drugs or you smoke and/or drink while pregnant, then don't try to blame an obstetrician when your child is born less than perfect. If you misuse a product in a way that was not forseen by the manufacturer and you get injured, you need to take responsibilty for your action, instead of trying to blame the manufacturer for your own stupidity. Very often, such lawsuits are used by the "victims" and their lawyers as their shot at hitting the lottery. When the lawyer looks earnestly at you from the TV and tells you he cares about you and getting you the money you deserve, what he really means is he cares about getting his 40% out of whatever he can intimidate someone into giving him to make the lawsuit go away. Often, it is simply a matter of financial reality for a defendant to settle and payoff a plaintiff than to go through thousand of dollars in legal expenses required to defend against harassment lawsuits.

My solution is simple. KILL ALL THE LAWYERS!! Well, not really....but I do think that there are more than a few who should definitely be voted off the island, so to speak. The problem is simple. Lawyers will usually take almost any case, if there is a reasonable chance of a payoff at the other end. Plaintiffs use lawyers on a contingency basis, meaning they only have to pay off the attorney with a percentage (usually 30-40 %) of whatever money they receive. It costs the plaintiff and his/her attorney very little to take their shot at the "Lotto" that comes with a large jury award. And, as a result, our civil courts are heavily backlogged with cases waiting to be heard. However, if the law was changed to make a losing plaintiff, AND HIS ATTORNEY, responsible for reimbursing a winning defendant, then you would see far fewer frivolous lawsuits which would result in legitimate lawsuits being heard much sooner than they are now. Such a change would force the legal vultures, uh, excuse me, the plaintiffs' lawyers to be more judicious when deciding whether to take a case to court. A small side benefit might be to restore the legal profession back to a respectable standing, and cut back on lawyer jokes.

Q: What is the difference between a dead lawyer in the road and a dead skunk in the road?
A: There are skid marks in front of the skunk!!

Q: How many lawyer jokes are there in the world?
A: Three, the rest are all true stories!!


1 comment:

Kristin said...

After my accident, I had my car checked out and called the insurance to say there are no damages. If not for the fact that the van, the one that hit me, sustained damages and needed to file a report, I would have left. Instead, I spent an hour and a half at the side of the road so they could do things "right."

I know a number of people might have seen an accident with a corporate vehicle as a blank check but I don't get it.