The memory still makes me shudder.
It was late, the type of late where you wonder if you’ll catch the sun yawning on the horizon. My little red car was driving down South Florida’s Interstate 95 in the pouring rain, trying its best to stay on the road. Every so often, I’d hit a dim area where clusters of streetlights were out.
I was about home when, suddenly, the cars in front of me veered off the road.
I had no idea what was in the shadowed, rain-plastered road in front of me, but I couldn’t swerve out of the way like the other cars.
Too many vehicles in the next lane.
So I slammed on my brakes, thankful for my new tires, and came to a stop … inches away from a lone crashed car. Phew.
As I got out to help the women who had hydroplaned, I admit, I had a brief, unkind thought: “Oh no, I hope they don’t try to say I somehow caused their accident or made an injury worse.”
I know, I know … that’s not a great thought. But I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people throwing around lawsuits like they were Oprah Winfrey giving out free cars.
After all, a Florida lawyer actually sued another lawyer over a “negligent handshake” a couple years ago. He says he experienced some pain during one of those power handshakes and needed to get the law involved.
Another Floridian sued a restaurant for falling off of their popular donkey statue. The plaintiff, Kimberly Bonn, voluntarily climbed on the statue, and she says it was too “smooth and slick,” causing her to fall.
Unfortunately, these types of frivolous lawsuits are a dime a dozen.
Just this week, a Missourian named Robert Bratton brought a class action lawsuit against the Hershey Company. After buying 600 boxes of Whoppers and Reese’s Pieces over about a decade, he claimed he was entitled to cash damages because …. more candy could have fit inside the boxes.
I mean, I like candy too, but was a lawsuit really necessary?
Better question: Should American society rely this heavily on lawyers to solve problems of any kind?
Think about it. As of 2016, there are about 1.3 million licensed lawyers here out of 323 million people. That’s an increase of over 128% from the 1980 total of 574,810.
About 15 million lawsuits were filed in America in 2016. That’s one new lawsuit every two seconds. In September 2016, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America found that the annual cost to the U.S. economy for civil lawsuits was a whopping $239 billion.
And the estimated annual cost to each citizen for these suits is $812.
To me, it’s clear that we’re living in an incredibly litigious society.
So I believe it’s prudent to be more aware of it — to protect ourselves. As people who are committed to growing and protecting our wealth, it’s critical for us to understand the potential issues here.
People like to sue. It’s as simple as that. And if you’re building up a sizeable store of wealth, you’re vulnerable to that.
So I urge you to start protecting yourself. Research how to lawyer-proof your life, and do it soon.
Hopefully, one day, we won’t have to worry about someone suing us for being near a car accident or shaking their hand with too much enthusiasm. But today isn’t that day.
Catch you next week.
Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing