One of the great things about living in America, is we have something called “the rule of law.”
So, just what is that?
Well, in the U.S., instead of having a king sitting on a throne, we believe “the law is king.” That means that we believe we are ruled by laws, not other men and women. “The rule of law.” It’s precious stuff, friends.
So, what does any of that have to do with lawsuits.
Well, it turns out, that people just living their daily lives, are going to have problems that come up in dealing with other people.
There’s two ways to solve problems having to do with money, property or your person, what we call “civil” problems.
One is something called “self help.” In other words, if your neighbor built a high fence and you don’t like it, self help is taking a saw and cutting it down without permission.
Only we learned a long time ago that self help causes all kinds of problems. If you don’t believe me, try cutting down your neighbor’s fence and report back to me what happens. No, just kidding. Don’t do that. Self-help isn’t really all that helpful.
The other way to solve civil problems is something called a civil justice system.
When someone wants to solve a problem using the civil justice system, they file papers asking for some kind of relief. That’s basically what a lawsuit is. Pretty simple, huh?
Now, there is plenty of debate these days about whether there are too many lawsuits, or too few, and all that kind of stuff that I know you hear about all the time.
But, the truth is, when you have a civil problem, it become real important to you that someone can help you solve that problem in the fairest, least expensive and quickest way.
Now, I’m not here to give you legal advice and there are differences in how courts work in each state and in the federal system. Still, spend a little time with me and I think I can tell you some things that you didn’t know before and, hopefully, will help you with whatever problem you need to fix.
Letter to the editor of Wall Street Journal:
Regarding your editorial “The Tort Bar Burns On” (July 23), I am a trial lawyer in Encino, California. I offer the following observation:
Your writer misses the point in discussing gasoline can litigation. A serious gasoline burn injury can easily result in multiple millions of dollars in medical expenses. Five to ten million in total costs are not unusual for younger victims with normal lifespans and catastrophic injuries.
So it comes down to, who pays for this, the manufacturer who profits from a product causing injury — in your article Blitz USA —or the public through increased taxes?
An internet search shows Blitz USA reports annual sales in the 20m-50m range. Using the upper limit, and assuming profit margins at a generous twenty percent, then Blitz’ annual profit would equal the real damages in about one serious burn case. Few can pay such costs on their own, so the taxpayers are generally on the hook.
Seen in this light, your article argues for higher taxes to subsidize private industry. Personally, I believe that strategy is a loser.