29 January 2006

Compensation culture

Everyone knows America is the land of lawsuits. I’ve had an experience which indicates part of the reason why.

After slicing into my finger by mistake a few months ago, I went to the emergency room to get it cleaned up and glued shut. Last month I got a letter from my medical insurance company.

I say “letter”, but it was more of a form to fill out. It basically asked where I was at the time of the accident; who else was there; who owned any objects involved in the accident; and whether I could possibly sue any of those people.

In fact, the form was structured in such a way that it really didn’t have a sequence of boxes to check to indicate “The accident was my own stupid fault”. So I wrote that on the bottom before mailing it back.

If the accident had involved cars or falling on ice or something like that, the letter would have carefully steered me towards litigation—even if the accident had been my own stupid fault.

At some point, someone realized they could save paying for something if they litigated. Now, companies sue other companies, and people sue other people, in a never ending cycle.

We’re back to the stage we were at beforehand, where an accident can bankrupt you—but with two key differences: now, it’s someone else having an accident that can bankrupt you; and now there’s a large and expensive population of lawyers to feed.

© mathew 2017