When we consider litigation, we should first recognize that 80% of the world’s lawyers live in the U.S, with a 15% increase in lawyers since 2008. This is a clear snapshot of American culture. Over your lunch break, you may discuss with your colleagues how this country’s population has become obsessed with earning money by any means necessary. Let’s consider some of the particulars.
America’s culture is built around the idea of fulfilling the American dream. It is meant to be an inspirational notion, one in which someone is judged by the amount of effort and passion they put into achieving that end. Of course, when a mistake is made, someone is also expected to own up to it. This brings up the importance of insurance, the concept of paying someone else to take on the risk of making that mistake.
Insurance can be written for personal liability, automobiles, businesses, malpractice and almost any other subject of risk you can think of. The result is that some people have begun to see the insured as a potential source of cash. If another party is injured as a result of your actions, your insurance company has to decide whether to settle or fight. Given that 90% of injury cases are settled before trial, it’s not difficult to see that our culture encourages this outcome.
A Subject of Amusement
Lawsuits have reached the point where they are often no longer seen as a victim demanding justice. They are frequently viewed as a source of amusement. People often talk about how ridiculous some of these major lawsuits can be. The words frivolous and lawsuit have become almost inseparable. This goes double when it comes to lawsuits against large corporations since they are thought to be easy targets with large potential payouts.
Sources of Lawsuits
The most popular type of litigation is an injury lawsuit. These happen every day. You can get injured in a car, at a friend’s house, at the supermarket or on the sidewalk. You can also sue if someone harms your reputation in the form of slander or libel. Other than the common reasons people sue, there are many obscure reasons.
American culture has created an environment that encourages needless litigation. One popular example of ridiculous lawsuits is that of a man suing Anheuser-Busch when drinking their beer would not produce visions of beautiful women. Another ridiculous example is that of a man who sued the show “Fear Factor” after being overwhelmed by one of their challenges. There was also a man who tried to sue himself for $5 million because he violated his own religious beliefs by drinking during a robbery. These are all extreme cases, but you rarely hear about this kind of nonsense outside of America.
Given the encouragement of insurance companies to settle cases, the amusement factor involved and the many targets that one can choose to sue, the situation may be getting out of hand. There seems to be an obsession with lawsuits in this country.