“What about the next person?”
A few weeks ago, a family member was injured.
On the way to get a coffee, they tripped and fell on uneven sidewalk.
It did damage: bleeding, bruising, and a concussion. And there is still a scar.
It is a highly trafficked area. And, after investigating, we learned that multiple people had been badly hurt by that same uneven sidewalk.
So I asked the family member for permission to pursue it.
But there was hesitation.
Pursuing a personal injury case is not an easy decision. You expose yourself to scrutiny, and you have to deal with attorneys.
It’s a pain.
But what is not fair is the stigma that goes along with it:
You become one of “them.”
You know who I’m talking about: the people who file lawsuits.
The people responsible for rising healthcare and insurance costs.
The people trying to get something for nothing, like in the McDonald’s Coffee Case:
A 79-year-old woman, who suffered 3rd degree burns in her pelvic region, hospitalized for 8 days, and 2 years of medical treatment because McDonald’s did not take safety seriously.
That’s right: McDonald’s knew their coffee was too hot; their own documents showed that more than 700 people had been burned by their coffee.
And when she tried to settle her case for $20,000 to cover her medical expenses, guess what McDonalds did?
Frivolous lawsuit, right?
When my family member hesitated, it was not because they did not want to deal with me (despite that being a completely legitimate reason 😜). It was because of Corporate America’s (i.e., tort reform’s) false messaging.
So I asked them: “What about the next person?”
And they agreed to let me take a shot.
One week after I got involved, the sidewalk was fixed.
There will be no next person.
After a frustrating mistrial last fall, a colleague sent me an uplifting note reminding me why we do this work:
“It wasn’t the FDA that brought down big tobacco, it was trial attorneys. It wasn’t Congress that on its own put in regulations about tractor-trailer drivers—it was trial attorneys beating the hell out of trucking companies in the courtroom that got those laws passed.
The government does not have the resources to protect the public or the consumer—we are it. What we do should not be looked down upon, but should be honored. Are there bad apples? Sure. But the majority of us go to war every day, not because we are motivated by lining our pockets, but because we care about our communities.
This is a fight we need to win—it is a fight that will be hard, long, and like any war, we will have losses along the way. But at the end of this fight, we will win because the law is on our side. Society has just lost sight of why tort law exists in the first place—it is there to protect, to make things safer, to not shift burdens, to hold those who make bad decisions fully accountable and responsible for those bad decisions.”
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Owned by Sharif L. Gray of Blackburn, Conte, Schilling & Click, P.C.