I was recently watching TV when a commercial came on for a law firm with the slogan:
If You Have Pain, You Need Law
My jaw dropped. I was really bothered.
First, at the law firm. And then at society at large. Because this commercial, sadly, reflected a growing and in my mind somewhat perverse expectation (at least in the U.S.) that if you get hurt someone’s gotta pay…even if it was nobody else’s fault
Even if it was YOUR fault!
Whatever happened to personal responsibility?
I’ve even seen this mindset justified by people arguing, “hey, nobody gets hurt, it’s just the insurance company that’s paying and they’ve got billions.”
Wrong on two levels. One, where do you think all those billions came from? Uh…you and me. And the one of the big reasons our insurance fees are so high are because so many people will sue at the drop of a dime in the mistaken belief that nobody gets hurt when an insurance company pays. We all pay in the form of higher personal, health, product liability and business insurance. And, on the consumer side, a portion of those costs are often then passed on as higher service and product fees.
Two, it’s not supposed to work this way, but in the U.S., you can leverage the system to more or less coerce a person or company to pay “something” in order to avoid the fees associated with a full-blown law suit. It’s a simple cost benefit analysis and a lot of litigants and their representatives know this. Happens all the time. Puts money in your pocket when you feel pain without much reference to fault.
But, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s right.
I’ve seen small businesses created by moms and dads trying to put food on their tables crushed because someone decided the system would let them get something for nothing. I’ve seen caring, compassionate OB/GYNs who love bringing babies into the world drop the OB part of their practice, because they can’t afford the insane malpractice insurance.
FYI – This doesn’t happen in a lot of other places because the rule of law in many other locales is “loser pays,” meaning the loser not only pays their own fees, but the fees of the winner, too. This drastically lessens the number of “lightly supported” law suits.
Am I saying “if you feel pain, you should NEVER need law or dollars?” Of course not.
The same laws that allow for people to claim pain and cash without merit also protect those who’ve genuinely been wronged and are rightly entitled to compensation. But, the notion that pain automatically entitled you to legal recourse and money…that’s just wrong.
Life happens. Pain happens. Accidents happen.
But, liability doesn’t automatically flow.
Curious what you think…
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