Social Question

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

Are we too much of a compensation culture?

Asked by TheProfoundPorcupine (2512 points ) January 22nd, 2013

Yesterday I heard an email being read out on the BBC in reply to a question about why so many schools were quick to close due to the snow that has hit a lot of the UK. The email in question came from a head teacher who said that part of the reason why they are so quick to close their school was due to fears of parents taking the school to court if their child hurt themselves when playing in the snow.

This morning I was then stopped by a sales agent for a lawyer that deals in claiming compensation for accidents and apart from the fact that they are a real pain it was the guy insisting that I must have had some kind of accident at some point that I could claim for no matter how minor it may seem.

The question therefore is are we too much of a compensation culture? Do you know of anybody that has sued somebody for something stupid and won? Where are we heading with all of this?

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19 Answers

fremen_warrior's avatar

By “we” do you mean the UK, or the English speaking countries in general?

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I mean we as in everybody not country specific.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yeah, whomever it was who sued McDonalds for having ‘too hot’ coffee and won. Idiots.

fremen_warrior's avatar

In that case I will say NO. On the basis that Poland is pretty much unaffected by this type of thing.

woodcutter's avatar

More like a lawyer culture. They would tell you they are for helping the little guy but they lie. They are all about helping themselves.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Strangely enough I never hear about such cases happening in continental Europe, or Africa, or Asia…

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Did anyone else hear about that would-be robber who broke into a woman’s kitchen via skylight, fell onto the knife block on the kitchen countertop, cut himself in the process, sued the homeowner, and WON!?!? WTF?

Pachy's avatar

Really stuck it to them, eh?

Coloma's avatar

Yes, we’re a litigation happy culture and a fear based culture.
I would have to be severely injured through obvious negligent circumstances to ever consider suing somebody. I used to work for a wildlife rahab group in my area and I once had this outraged city slicker transplant to the hills threaten he was going to sue the county for a skunk that sprayed on his new deck. lol

wundayatta's avatar

The cup of coffee was way hot, and when it spilled, it gave the woman serious burns over 6% of her body. They required a lot of skin grafts to fix it. But that’s not serious, really. It’s all right if major corporations sell dangerous products without warning you about it.

And the stories about robbers suing for getting injured on the job are mostly false, too. But people think that if it’s published in a major news magazine, it must be true. People can be so gullible. They are so prejudiced that they think if it confirms their sense of outrage, it must be true. Why bother to check it out?

Law suits are an important part of our justice system. We want to discourage companies from dumping dangerous products on us. We can only get them to change their behavior by suing them. But the big companies what tort reform. They want to make it easier to get away with murder of their customers. They want their customers to lead the battle in fighting for “tort reform” which will free companies from the responsibility of making their products safe and do what they say they will.

tom_g's avatar

@KNOWITALL – re: the infamous McDonald’s coffee case. I’m not entirely sure this case deserves its awful reputation. The 79-year-old woman was hospitalized for 8 days with 3rd-degree burns, which required operations to remove dead tissue. She originally asked for $11,000 to cover her medical bills, but McDonald’s offered $800. Overall, it seems that there were some signs here that the coffee being served was too hot and provided a danger to the customers. It was also clear that McDonald’s was aware of the risk to its customers as a result of more than 700 reports of burns from their coffee. They had been settling these things for years. Yet, they didn’t warn customers and this lady was not out to get McDonald’s. Anway, this seems to have some info on the case.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Okay, so the hot coffee was too freakin’ hot, moving on.

How about the fat person who sued McDonalds for selling them fattening foods?

tom_g's avatar

@KNOWITALL: “How about the fat person who sued McDonalds for selling them fattening foods?”

I don’t know. Never heard of it.
I get the impression that nearly everyone feels that 90% of the US population makes a living by litigation. I would really like to see the data here. But I suspect that these poor little corporations are doing just fine, and these cases we hear about are really the exception. It makes me nervous when the overwhelming mood is that consumers are abusing corporations.

flutherother's avatar

If you spill hot coffee over yourself and get burned I don’t see how you can blame anyone but yourself. Taking a cup of scalding hot coffee into a moving car seems a stupid idea to me but who are big companies to deny the public what it wants. Putting the word ‘hot’ on the cup protects the company from legal action but it won’t protect careless people from burning themselves.

KNOWITALL's avatar

All I know is that if I order hot coffee, and get hot coffee, I would try hard not to spill it all over myself or HOLD IT BETWEEN MY LEGS, a very sensitve area of the anatomy. I don’t want to argue about this myself, but I think it’s pure American greed.

As long as people keep getting paid for this nonsense, instead of just saying, “guess that really was my fault”, then we’ll keep paying a higher rate for services and products. But as long as YOU get paid don’t worry about the rest of US in this country. Losers.

tranquilsea's avatar

Years ago read an interesting article on how much litigation went up once lawyers were able to advertise.

There is a balance between necessary litigation and frivolous litigation. But it has to be up to the courts to decide which is which.

Coloma's avatar

I was rear ended a few years ago by a shuttle driver for one of the local car dealerships.
This guy nailed me in a 25 mph zone, smacked me, and sandwiched me between his van and the car in front of me. In the moment I had a giant, not very hot, cup of coffee in my car that launched in my face and completely doused the interior and dash of my car. I guess I should have sued BOTH the dealership and Starbucks. lol
Oh well…I did make the dealership clean and detail the interior of my car.

Leanne1986's avatar

I was listening to one of the BBCradio stations when they were discussing the school closures and, up until then, I had thought it strange that so many schools couldn’t operate when there is snow (after all, most lessons are indoors so what’s the problem) but when I heard the discussion about how it is to protect themselves from being sued if (when) kids fall over in the playground etc I couldn’t help but sympathise with them.

woodcutter's avatar

They are probably concerned with transportation related problems and thought it wiser to just add the time off to the tail end of the school year. I live in an area where we see very light snow accumulation if ever, and there are no snow clearing capabilities of the road crews to really make all the roads safe. We basically wait it out so closing school is the right thing to do. I live next to a large military base and in bad weather only mission essential personnel are required to go in. There’s no need in having one soldier getting killed in an accident on the way in to work. The one’s who reside on post carry on as usual. It’s a work around until conditions improve.

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