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By Chuck Wells

A five-inch fishing lure that has three steel hooks has a warning label: “Harmful if swallowed.”

The warning label on a bottle of drain cleaner reads: “If you do not understand, or cannot read all directions, cautions, and warnings, do not use this product.”

A warning label on a snow sled: “Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions.”

Our efficient U.S. Congress is now working on a law prohibiting lawsuits against fast-food chains by lawyers representing fat people who want to sue because they ate too many burgers and fries. They whine that they would not be fat slobs if the fast food outfits had not made them eat their food. Who would have thought laws would be necessary to prohibit these kinds of bogus lawsuits? And who profits from lawsuits? Those supposedly injured or just the lawyers?

The cost to us in higher prices because of lawsuits has increased 100% over the past 50 years compared to an increase in our gross domestic product of 34%. This means our legal system is taking bigger and bigger bites out of our economy.

Each of us in New York pays about $800 per year for lawsuits.

Here in New York, it is becoming difficult to find an obstetrician or gynecologist because of the cost of insurance that is related to ridiculous lawsuits. Look at the cost of your medical insurance. It’s not the fault of insurance companies. Doctors, hospitals, and drug manufacturers are inundated with lawsuits so they have to cover their rear-ends by extra procedures. Follow the money. It doesn’t stay with doctors, hospitals, or drug manufacturers.

Talk to contractors about their insurance. They can’t afford worker’s compensation or general liability insurance anymore because of New York’s laws encouraging lawsuits. Construction companies are hiring people outside of New York to come in because our legal system is so oppressive.

This past year, our state legislators and governor passed a law actually allowing husbands and wives to now sue each other after a car accident. This was not possible before this year. Who will make money on this deal? Who will pay for this?

So what do we get for all this money being spent on lawsuits? Do we make out better because of them?

According to the Independent Research Council, “When attorneys are involved, accident victims wait much longer for payment. Claimants who hired attorneys actually received a lower net reimbursement amount and (felt) less satisfied with the overall amount received.”

The Insurance Research Council also confirms that “claim studies show that injured people who deal directly with the insurance company wind up with as much or more money than those who hire attorneys because the attorney takes about one-third of the settlement.”

A case study by Allstate Insurance Company was interesting too. While people who hired a lawyer received more money in a lawsuit if the suits were between $1,500 and $15,000, they actually only netted only $48 more in their pockets while the attorney retained about $2,600. In some cases, attorneys retain more money than the client after costs are factored in.

The city of Chicago settled a class action lawsuit (remember the tobacco class action that netted lawyers millions who then went out an bought big yachts?) filed on behalf of the city’s panhandlers who said their civil rights were violated when ticketed for begging on the sidewalks. The city’s 3,000 panhandlers will be given $450 each which I’m sure will be invested wisely. The lawyers who took this case will get $375,000.

One of the solutions to our financial problems in this country is to reign in a legal system that is out-of-control and promotes a lottery mentality for those who want to score big without working and at the same time give the rest of us the shaft.

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