Lawyers (8/31/2011)

The problem in America with health care costs, insurance and even consumer costs is lawyers. I fly airplanes and recently was reading a placard in the aircraft, finding it idiotic because it states the obvious: “…failure to properly latch seat and heed all instructions can result in bodily injury or death.” That placard is there due to a widow successfully suing Cessna when he adjusted his seat while climbing out on take-off. The incident was certainly not Cessna’s fault but a jury ruled otherwise.

Some adventure sports like white water rafting and parachuting require a waiver before participating; again to head off lawsuits. Every amusement park in America has a warning to pregnant women and back pain sufferers at the front of each line to mitigate law suits. Similarly, my wife is pregnant and we were required to sign an 8-page disclaimer releasing the doctor of liability if the baby is harmed during birth due to law suits.

Recently I was in Mexico with my kids and took them to an attraction consisting of natural park area, snorkeling, tubing, and other experiences. Walking through the park there were no hand rails to protect against a fall, there were no cameras watching our every move, and there were no warning signs at each ride In fact, it was probably the nicest, cleanest, most cost-effective, freest park experience I have ever head; it existed without the oversight of lawyers fueling idiocracy.

Three weeks ago I traveled to Gulf Shores, Alabama and saw shocking “ambulance chaser” billboards. The law firms advertising were seeking clients who cleaned up the oil spill and “might” be exhibiting “any” symptoms of illness. Talk about fishing for monies and setting up for a class action lawsuit.

It is nearly impossible to turn on the evening news in Orlando, Florida without the advertising of a particular law firm shopping for clients to call regarding the latest disease, tragedy, or injury. The only justification for the persistent advertising is the successful income stream generated by settlements made just under the radar of large companies. These under $20,000 lawsuits filed frivolously but settled readily by insurance companies cut costs instead of risking larger expenses in court, a steady windfall for law firms.

Examples abound but now I must ask, is this the lawyers’ fault or the juries making it easy to win “life’s lottery” with a lawsuit. I don’t know that caps on lawsuits are the right answer but I would assert less monies to attorneys and more to victims would make lawyers less likely to shop for victims and more likely to pursue justice.