6 July 2009 – On Litigation

Daytime TV seems to be full of the “have you had an accident at work …” adverts.  The dictionary definition of “accident” is: “something which happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, and which often damages something or injures someone”.  For me, the key words are “unexpectedly” and “unintentionally”.  Now I fully realise there are times when something occurs and someone is injured and there is a fault or an intention to damage there.  Or even some amount of lack of consideration (upon which I’ve commented previously) so what has happened to make us all so litigious in recent years?

Some people call it “compo culture”.  I get tired of seeing people jumping on the litigation bandwagon.  There is no such thing as “free money”: there is always a cost to someone, somewhere.  Some of the boneheads out there who trip over something and sue the local council don’t seem to equate their frivolous litigation with rising taxes, insurance and general running costs.  Not to mention the lawyers’ fees.

There are so many business and institutions have had to curtail some or all of their activities because of prohibitive insurance costs – I find it sad that so many members of society feel it is necessary to get someone to “pay” for their “accidents”.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that all of them are frivolous and I know that there are people who have suffered *genuine* loss from an incident but I really wish there were some standards out there which would empower these organisations (some would call them ambulance chasers) to turn around to these potential clients and tell them to get a life and stop being vindictive and greedy, instead of having an eye for the bottom line and thinking they may be able to make a buck out of it.

If you want to try something out which is potentially dangerous, be adult enough to accept the risk and realise that you may potentially break or damage a part of you, or even lose your life.  As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not prepared to accept that risk, you have no business undertaking the activity in the first place.  Skydiving, abseiling, rock climbing, horse riding, quad biking: people injure themselves doing these and other activities all the time: they’re risky!

If you slip over because you stood on or in something that wasn’t supposed to be there, live with it.  Shit happens.  I’ve seen enough of the documentation going to and from court with claims and counter claims – take things in around you, be aware of what you’re doing – sometimes that means being aware of what other people are doing as well – if someone’s digging a hole somewhere and you’re not taking any notice of where you’re going, you probably will fall into it – don’t go sueing someone for a broken leg because you couldn’t be arsed to look in front of your own nose!

I know there are some sweeping generalisations in here – I’m not looking to solve the world’s problems in a blog or even change the world, but if reading this causes one person (or a person they tell) to be less selfish and more aware of the world around them, that’s good enough for me.

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