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Are You “The Suing Type?”

We hear about them every day on television, the internet and talk radio shows: frivolous lawsuits. Ridiculous stories like the one about a burglar who tripped and fell while in the victim’s house and then brought a successful lawsuit against the victim for his injuries. Stories so outrageous that we just want to scream, “What’s wrong with the world today?”

There may well be plenty wrong in the world today but a flood of frivolous lawsuits actually isn’t one of them. The overwhelming majority of plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits are normal, law-abiding folks who never asked for the injuries they’ve suffered or the problems that flowed from the accident. In fact, the vast majority of our client’s cases settle favorably, without filing a lawsuit. Still, the perception exists that people with injury claims are bad people known as “the suing type.”

There are without doubt a few unscrupulous people in the world who seek to use our system of justice for reasons beyond its intended purpose. It sometimes appears as though there are many such people because the media loves to report on outrageous-sounding lawsuits. This perception grows even greater with the circulation of e-mails such as the ones titled the “Stella Awards” which purport to describe the worst lawsuit abusers of the year. These perceptions gain momentum every time the e-mail is forwarded. Unfortunately, the “Stella Awards” and the outrageous lawsuits they claim to decry are false and have been debunked for years on urban legends websites such as www.snopes.com.

The effect of this dangerous misconception on our society causes people to hesitate to assert their legal rights in situations where they have every right to do so. The people we represent are honest, good citizens who wish the accident had never happened and just want to be treated fairly by the adverse insurance company.

One of the greatest aspects of our judicial system is that it gives citizens the right to redress the wrongs in our society by awarding monetary damages. This is its strength, not its weakness. If our system was not so designed then the victims in our society would forever be victimized and those who caused injury would never be held accountable. We teach this lesson to our children when they are very young: if you break something, you fix it. It’s not enough to merely say that you’re sorry. You have to make it right. This is the very principle behind monetary damage awards in court. Contrary to current public sentiment, people are not rushing to get injured so they can cash in. There’s not one client we’ve ever had who would not immediately accept if it were possible to make it so that the accident had never happened. Unfortunately, that option is not possible. Therefore, we pursue the civilized process of discussing the matter with the other side and trying to reach an acceptable resolution.

If both sides cannot agree on a resolution, the matter is then handed to the court and a jury of our peers decides on the resolution. It is the hallmark of the greatest system of justice ever created on Earth that we can decide our differences in this manner.

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