How About Taking Some Personal Responsibility Instead Getting A Lawyer?

by John Hawkins | April 15, 2003 3:50 pm

How About Taking Some Personal Responsibility Instead Getting A Lawyer?: Sometimes you just have to live with the consequences[1] of your mistakes. One of those mistakes is letting your three-year-old run around while you’re mowing the lawn…

“A Springfield family is suing Sears and the makers of Craftsman lawnmowers for millions of dollars. Dale Ortman accidentally backed over his 5-year-old son, Rhett, two years ago.

The boy’s right leg and ankle were mangled, and he is permanently disabled.

Ortman blames the riding lawnmower. He says the blades on most stop when the mower is in reverse.”

Come on, he’s blaming Craftsman because he backed over his kid with a riding lawnmower? Why was a three-year-old kid running around in the yard without adequate supervision to begin with and why wasn’t his father looking where he was going?

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “Come on Hawkins, this kid is going to have a rough life and if this guy sticks it to Craftsman — well — no big deal. They’re a huge company, what’s a few million dollars to them?”

See, that’s the problem. In the end, Craftsman isn’t going to pay for it, the people who buy Craftsman lawnmowers are. Because if Craftsman loses that suit, all they’re going to do is take all the money they lose and tack it on to the cost of their mowers. Then either the consumers pay more or if costs get too high, the mowers go unsold and some of the people who work for Craftsman lose their jobs.

Again, I can anticipate what some of you are thinking, “Hawkins, you’ve got to let people sue or these companies will try to get away with making dangerous products. Besides, we’re just talking about one guy here.”

First off, the problem wasn’t that the product was defective. If let’s say a blade from the mower flew out and hit the kid in the leg, then sure, it would be appropriate for the family to sue. But, the product worked exactly as it should have. To complain after the fact about an extra-safety feature that MIGHT have prevented some of the child’s injuries is asinine. I mean who DOESN’T EXPECT a small child to be injured if a riding lawnmower backs over him?

Furthermore, it isn’t just one guy. There are a legion of Dale Ortmans out there and everyone else is paying the price so they can play “lawsuit lottery”. According to Walter Olson[2], we are the most litigious nation in the world by far. Moreover, if the average person knew how big of a “lawyer tax” they paid on products and services they use on a daily basis, the support for Tort Reform would shoot through the roof.

  1. live with the consequences:
  2. Walter Olson:

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