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While in Britain we have symptoms of a sue culture, it is in the United States of America where it all kicked off. Ambulance chasers and holes in the system have seen a big rise in claims on our shores over the years and was one of the reasons that parliament voted for legal aid cuts. But, across the Atlantic, they’re on a different level.

America’s ‘sue culture’

Arguably the catalyst for the ‘sue culture’ in America was the Liebeck v Mcdonald’s Restaurants case. ‘The hot coffee lawsuit’ as it is also known was in 1994 as Stella Liebeck sued for product liability after suffering third-degree burns when she spilled a hot takeout coffee in her car. While the debate over whether she was right or wrong rumbles on, she received $2.86 million from the jury and now every takeout coffee bears the warning “Caution: Hot contents”.

Apparently the coffee was “too hot”, maybe you could sue for it being too cold? There have been many other crazy lawsuits including Cleanthi Peters and Universal Studios in 2000 where Peters claimed their haunted house was “too scary” and caused anguish and distress. Additionally, in 2002, Edward Brewer tried to sue Providence Hospital for failing to stop him raping a patient, convicted kidnapper Jesse Dimick tried to sue former hostages in 2010 for not helping him escape and the family of a man who stayed in Sea World after closing, avoided security and tried to swim with the killer whales and was subsequently killed tried to start a lawsuit based on the lack of warning in the park that the whales were dangerous.

Britain’s culture

Many politicians have said that we are becoming a society with an increasingly worrying sue culture. In fact, the cut of legal aid was to try to stop any ‘no win, no fee’ hopefuls from trying to claim a quick quid. But, the Trades Union Congress compiled a list of myths and one of the most significant was the fact that compensation claims aren’t skyrocketing. The stats show that civil claims against employers have dropped over the last five years.

With the best part of a million people injured at work, the 60,000 who get a successful claim are very much in the minority. Similarly, cases are often dragged out because of the defendant failing to take liability and the average earning is only £7,500.

What does this mean?

While the example America is setting can play with our ethics and morals, that doesn’t mean that claiming is wrong. If you have suffered a personal injury or were injured at work then Irwin Mitchell and medical negligence experts can help you getting the compensation that you receive. Ambulance chasing might be wrong but if you’re entitled to it, get what you deserve!


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