Personal injury cases don’t always happen how you think and some of the most famous cases are a complete fabrication. Contrary to what the news would have you believe, the number of claims being made is going down, not up, and many of the stories put out there about the state of this industry, how it is raising insurance premiums and destroying morality come from the companies that often find themselves the target of these cases.
It’s in their best interests to lie, because the truth is that most of these cases are perfectly justified, including some that will surprise you.
What you Think Happened
Woman spills hot McDonald’s coffee on herself, sues the chain, makes millions and represents everything that is wrong with personal injury cases. She was driving while she had the coffee in her lap, it spilled and she secured a payment worth millions, seemingly without effort.
There is so much wrong with this story that it’s difficult to know where to begin. First, the woman was in her seventies and she wasn’t driving, her son was. Secondly, the coffee was absurdly hot and had injured many other customers in the run-up to this incident, with McDonald’s refusing to do anything about it. If a company responsible for feeding our kids pink slime and cardboard can’t be trusted to act on public health, who can we trust?
Finally, and most importantly, she just wanted McDonald’s to pay for her medical bills. She had severe burns all over the lower half of her body after all and because it was mostly their fault, it seemed like a fair request.
McDonald’s refused. In fact, they refused many times and wouldn’t give her the time of day. Desperate, broke and in recovery from a severe burn, she was left with no choice but to take them to court. The judge filed in her favor, taking into account the many previous injuries and the complete negligence on McDonald’s part.
Man Sues Driver after Trying to Steal his Car
What you Heard
Man gets caught trying to steal a car, clambers out of the driver’s side and begins to run away, just as the driver gets behind the wheel and attempts to flee out of fear for his own safety. In the resulting chaos, the thief is run over and then sues the driver for injuring him.
There are countless variations on this lawsuit, but they usually revolve around hard-to-believe scenarios that leave the reader angry and frustrated with the state of modern law. These got their start in email forwards and social media posts, and because they’re exactly the sort of thing that people will indignantly share without looking at the facts or the source, they tend to spread quickly.
There are some similar stories of burglars suing commercial properties for allowing their buildings to fall into disrepair and causing them harm during an attempted break-in. But as you can imagine, these are often dismissed and they are very rare to begin with.
Ladder in Manure
What you Heard
Man puts ladder in manure and begins to climb. the ladder slips, the man is injured and he sues the ladder company, somehow winning even though his claim seems to revolve around the fact that they didn’t warn him about putting the ladder on slippery excrement.
Putting a ladder is manure is clearly not a great idea, but in this case, it was beside the point. The ladder didn’t slip, it broke, and it caused great injury as a result. These ladders are supposed to hold thousands of pounds and are rated safe at 1,000, but it broke with just 400 on it.
He had a good case, which is why he won. Simple as that.
Woman Trips on Pothole, Sues Town
What you Heard
If you have an accident at work then you can claim worker’s compensation, with your employers being the ones who foot the bill. If you have an accident in a store as a customer, then they are the ones you will sue. But what if you have an accident on the street?
According to this story, that’s what happened to one woman in a small town in Branson, Missouri, and her response was to sue the city. The story goes that her money grabbing ways cost the city everything and made them bankrupt, having a knock-on effect that could be felt throughout all businesses and homes in the town and one that was hugely popular with the national news as a result.
First, the woman was severely injured and she needed surgery after the incident. It wasn’t a simple trip and fall. Secondly, the hole that she tripped over was hidden in overgrown grass, despite being at a busy crosswalk. Initially she tried to sue the owners of the nearby stores, before the courts decided that it was the city who were responsible.
And that’s where things take a detour into the bizarre and where the tabloids got their story. Usually, the city would have been insured, the amount would have been paid and everyone would have gone on with their lives. In this case, for whatever reason, there was no insurance because the mayor hadn’t been paying the premiums.
The mayor was a millionaire who made his first 6-figure check from a personal injury case, he was a hypocrite, but he was so much more. By the time the mayor left office he was caught up in several legal cases, including one for insurance fraud. While the city did suffer because of this case, the claimant was not the antagonist of this story.