You would think so, but that’s not necessarily true. The unfortunate
reality is that no matter how safe and secure we think we are, we are
each exposed to liability and financial hazards, regardless of our lifestyle,
occupation, or how carefully we live our lives. You can minimize the dangers
but you can’t entirely avoid them. In our litigious society there
are too many opportunities to encounter trouble.
What financial trouble awaits you next month, or next year? Who knows when
they might get hit with a costly accident or negligence claim, a lawsuit
for breach of contract or professional malpractice, creditor claims from
a failed business or divorce? You see the point. The potential liabilities
are limitless. But until trouble strikes, you don’t realize your
vulnerability. And until you recognize your vulnerability, you may take
your financial stability for granted. That’s unfortunate. And dangerous!
You must think defensively. People shouldn’t ask if they will someday
face financial danger. They should ask when and how will it happen! Since
they can’t predict the answer, their only logical option is to build
the strongest protective fortress possible for their wealth before trouble strikes.
We sometimes learn that lesson too late. One of our clients claimed she
would never be sued because she was a schoolteacher. True, she wasn’t
sued for her teaching, but a year later she was sued for over a million
dollars for the negligent handling of her mother’s estate. Obviously,
a lawsuit need not relate to your employment. No matter how cautious and
careful you are you still can get sued. For instance, anyone who drives
could get into an accident. We are all at risk. It is not only doctors,
real estate developers, or business owners who attract lawsuits. Everyone
is a potential target!
Everybody seemingly wants a piece of the action and a chance to win the
legal lottery. Kids sue parents, partners sue partners, patients sue doctors,
customers sue manufacturers, students sue teachers, and parishioners sue
their clergy. From toddlers to executors of the deceased, anyone can sue
and nobody is immune – not even the President of the United States.
Perhaps more frightening than the blizzard of lawsuits is the number of
ridiculous cases that squeeze their way through the court system and reach
a jury. It seems that the more ridiculous the case, the greater the plaintiff’s
victory. Scan the newspapers and magazines. Watch TV. Laugh to the Saturday
night stand-up comics. Who can most scintillate us with the day’s
craziest lawsuit? Why has litigation become our favorite form of entertainment?
Think for a moment, though: Are these cases really humorous when you consider
the great waste of time, money, and energy that was expended to defend
against them? Are these frivolous and bizarre cases truly funny when you
consider the aggravation, worry, and grief that so many defendants were
forced to endure before they could shake themself free of these nutty
litigants and their stupid lawsuits? Some of these whacky plaintiffs actually
won their cases, which bolsters our argument that our legal system is
only a legal lottery where even the bad case has a good chance.
You might argue that these cases are anomalies and rare curiosities within
our legal system, but you would be wrong. Hundreds or thousands of equally
ridiculous cases are now pending in your local courthouse. We know. We
see enough ludicrous cases in our own practice. Take a few minutes to
read the weekly Bar journals for equally far-fetched cases breaking new
legal ground. There’s always a picture of another grinning, victorious
plaintiff’s lawyer who bagged another defendant on some spurious grounds.
As we say, you do not have to do anything wrong to be sued and lose. You
only have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or somehow come across
some greedy lunatic who thinks he or she has reason to be grieved. Voilà!
Your wealth could soon be in their pocket!