Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sue...sue..sudio

Picture the Scene.

Paulius is sitting in front of his TV, as usual. It’s late night. Sounds of crickets fill the air.

Paulius turns up the sound on his TV to drown out the bloody crickets.

Suddenly, the picture on the TV screen changes. A man, instantly nicknamed ‘Botox Accident’, due to the total lack of expression or movement on his face, fills the screen. In fact, it looks as though his face is completely frozen. He also looks slightly constipated.

“If you have been injured, and it’s not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation…”

Paulius tunes out. The next ad appears.

This man, earning himself the nickname ‘Massive Coronary’ due to the fact that he’s ridiculously fat (not just fat, he has gravity, you get the feeling if you push him in any direction, he’ll just rock back and forth) also begins to speak:

“If you, or anyone you know has taken Biox, Flobox or Globox, and had negative effects, you may be entitled to compensation.”

Again, Paulius tunes out. The next ad appears:

This man, who appears to be having his eyebrows controlled by tiny wires off screen, also begins to speak:

“Have you recently fallen or had an injury? You may be entitled to a large cash award!”

At this point, Paulius just barely resists the urge to fling the remote at the screen, and showing incredible restraint, manages to simply turn the TV off.

Now, I’m not old by any means (I’m 24), but I remember a time when people actually didn’t sue each other at the drop of a hat.

There are reasonable reasons to sue someone. For example, if I got a bad electric shock from a computer at work, which left me unable to work for a long period of time, I’d be within my rights to sue for loss of earnings. After all, I wouldn’t have got the shock if my employer had taken adequate precautions.

If I injured myself gravely due to inadequate safety equipment, or badly maintained property, I’d be in my rights to sue.

However, we appear to be at a point today where anyone will sue anyone for any reason.

There used to be reason and a process.

For example, if I went into a shop and bought something that turned out not to work, I’d take it back and complain. If they refused to replace it or refund my money, I’d write to the head office. If that didn’t work, then I’d consider legal action.

You see, the idea of suing is based on compensation. You’ve been harmed, so you need compensating for it. If you’re unable to work, you sue for lost wages. If you need treatment, you sue for your medical bills.

However, things that you can claim ‘compensation’ for are very vague.

People no longer sue for what they’re owed. People sue because they want a lot of money, quickly, and for free. It’s greed. I’m not saying that there aren’t valid, reasonable and just cases for compensation, but plenty of people take the piss.

A guy in England once attempted to sue Virgin Trains…simply because he couldn’t get a signal on his mobile phone while on the train.

A guy attempted to sue ESPN, because he was offended by Janet Jackson’s nipple slip at the Superbowl.

A woman attempted to sue a department store, because her own child knocked her over. Apparently, the store staff should have had him under better control.

See what I mean?

People no longer put things in perspective.

Another guy in England attempted to sue the City Council, because he tripped on uneven pavement and twisted his ankle. Now if you look at that like a normal person, you’d ask why a healthy male had problems traversing a cracked sidewalk. A human being is essentially an ‘all terrain vehicle’, but now it’s not actually our fault if a half inch raised section of sidewalk trips us up.

Even if we look at this from the legal perspective, it’s still stupid. It’s true, the council are responsible for the city’s sidewalks, so someone tripping on a poorly maintained strip of concrete is technically their fault. However, is a twisted ankle really worth $10,000? You hurt your ankle, so you need about 6 months wages?

Not too long ago, a person would simply say a swear word, limp for a few hours, then complain about the state of the sidewalks to the council.

Nowadays, a simple sprained ankle is worth $10,000 dollars. Despite the face that the injury does not stop you doing anything, just causes a little pain, and makes you uncomfortable for a while.

People have attempted to sue people for such minor things as someone stepping on their toes.

Take the 85 year old lady who recently tried to sue Rockstar Games over the ‘Hot Coffee’ scandal. Why did she sue? She bought it for her 14 year old grandson. She ‘wouldn’t have bought it if she knew about the sex scenes’.

Again, when I was a kid, the worst Rockstar could have expected was a strongly worded letter. However, despite the fact that the 85 year old bought a game rated for 17 year olds for her 14 year old grandson…she believes she’s entitled to some sort of cash award?

What for? You buy an M rated game for a 14 year old. Hear in the newspapers about the current scandal… “Hmm, I could get some cash out of this!”

Under my new ‘Stupidity Law’, she would be behind bars right now, on the grounds that she’s a greedy, money grabbing moron.

That brings me to the stupidity question. Like the guy who sued Winnebago because he was driving down the freeway, turned on the cruise control, and went into the back to make coffee. He won his case, as the owner’s manual didn’t state clearly enough that cruise control simply maintained the vehicle’s speed…and did not steer for you.

This guy got a nice cash award and a brand new Winnebago. He got paid for being as dumb as a box of rocks, thick as a submarine door, and as dense as armor plating.

Now many of you probably think ‘What’s the big deal?’

I’ll tell you what the big deal is. Where do you think all this compensation money is coming from? Companies have to hire teams of lawyers to make sure their safety statements are air tight. If I decide to make toast in the shower, and the toaster’s manual does not specifically state not to get it wet, I have a case. So how do these companies pay for these lawyers and legal costs? They charge us, their consumers.

Also, once a company has been successfully sued, their insurance goes through the roof…and that cost is passed on to us. That’s one of the reasons why it costs so much to see a doctor. Their insurance costs are ridiculous.

The other problem is once someone successfully sues, thousands of other people crawl out the woodwork. Some have real grievances, others just want cash. For example, A few years ago, someone got injured by a Daisy BB gun. They ‘thought it was empty’.

In other words, they didn’t pay attention, and completely ignored the 10 gun safety rules (IE never point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot, even if you believe the gun to be unloaded), and shot themselves.

He won his case as it was decided that the gravity feed magazine was unsafe. Despite the fact that you can hear the BBs rattle with a quick shake of the gun, despite the fact that he should’ve had it pointed in a safe direction. Despite the fact the manual states specifically not to point the gun at yourself, others or animals.

In other words, some idiot decided to dick around with a weapon. Now, BB guns are not specifically dangerous, but a weapon is a weapon and should be treated with care and respect at all times.

However, some guy gets thousands in compensation because he decided to play with a loaded gun.

It’s the equivalent of me smacking myself in the face with a shovel…then suing the manufacturer because the manual didn’t say “Do not whack yourself upside the head with this product.”

Another candidate for imprisonment, on two counts of being bloody stupid.

I’m sorry, but I kinda expect adults to have a little common sense.

After the Daisy BB gun case, literally thousands of people sued. Some of them well into adulthood, all because they dicked around and shot themselves when they were 6.

That’s right, they lived normal, productive lives for decades, but now need $10,000 for a minor, self-inflicted injury that they suffered decades ago.

Anyone will sue anyone. It’s true. If you put up something less than complimentary about someone on your site, they won’t email and respectfully ask you remove it. You’ll get an email entitled “Im going to sue U!”

It all comes down to honesty and common sense. Common sense should tell you that a cup of coffee in the groin will hurt, so you should be careful. Common sense should tell you that pointing a gun at someone, even if you think it’s not loaded is a bad idea. Common sense should tell you that you don’t really deserve $10,000 for a twisted ankle.

As for honesty…there’s very little honesty in the world. Especially when a lie will land you with the big bucks.

That’s why those ads for lawyer’s offices piss me off so much. Allow me to translate what they really mean:

“Are you thick as pigshit? Have you misused a common product in such a way that caused you injury? Are you an amoral liar and want to get rich? Sue a blameless person and get your hands on their cash today!

Call screwem, fleecem and smyle. We too want to get rich of your stupidity!”

6 comments:

Kato said...

Personally, I go to Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe for my legal advice.

You're absolutely right on all counts. Basically, stupid, greedy people make the rest of our lives hell because we have to pay for their stupidity. What's worse is that people will win a case in some instances where they shouldn't have a chance, because it's cheaper for the company to throw money at the problem than pay for it to go to trial.

Bah. I'm voting for your stupidity law. I think in this country Natural Selection should be the new law of the land. If you are dumb enough to drink a bottle of Drano cause it doesn't say you should, then you deserve to die. If you trip, fall, and hurt yourself, then you should be forced to stay sequestered in your home so as to not endanger others.

serendipity said...

I sued the company I used to work for, and could probably come under the greedy money grabber headline.

I tripped over some loose cable and broke my elbow while at work.

I had two weeks off and some bloody severe pain.

However, had I not been trying to take a short cut between machines the tripping over could have been avoided.

That said, they had breached health and safety laws by not having the ables either waist height, or taped down, so you could argue that they asked for it.

A lot of the cases you referred to though made me laugh - the guy who put his winnebago on cruise control then sued because it crashed?? That's hilarious! i wouldn't have dared sue since it would have shown levels of stupidity most people don't know exists!

OzzyC said...

I'll vote for your law.

Paulius said...

Serendipity...at least you sued for a BROKEN bone...that actually stopped you from being able to work.

I was talking more about the people who stumble, get a bruise, then...

"I NEED FIFTY THOUSAND FOR MY BRUISED CALF MUSCLE!!! GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!"

robmcj said...

Brilliant!

When I was young, victims were treated badly. More recently, victims were viewed with sympathy, rightly so. Nowadays victimhood is a career option.

Anonymous said...

In the past if you were stupid you didn't survive - nowdays if your stupid you get compensated!!!!