Lost in the discussion about big business interests and creating an economic climate that will encourage big business to create jobs, lost in the US Chamber of Commerce’s phony campaign against trial lawyers and accident victims, lost in political rhetoric about fixing a false “problem” that some politicians (and the Chamber) call “lawsuit abuse”, is the fact that accidents are sudden, unexpected, events that can happen to anyone, anytime. Accidents change lives. Accidents cause devastation and physical and financial ruin. Accidents are usually preventable and are often caused by serious violations of public safety. No one seeks to be in a serious accident. No one seeks to trade places with an accident victim, regardless of whether or not his/her lawsuit was successful. And, clearly, the number one safety tool, keeping safety violators from repeating their wrongful conduct, is the threat of a lawsuit.
Monday night a motorist was killed in a freak auto accident. As a man drove home from work on Interstate 696 in Oak Park, MI a tire from a SUV traveling in the opposite direction, was propelled in the air, struck his car, and went through the driver’s side windshield. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. He was, simply, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. How can anyone be so unlucky? What could he or his survivors possibly have done to deserve this fate? What caused the tire to come loose? Perhaps it was an improper installation or loose lug nuts. Obviously, the tire was not secured in a safe manner; but, it is not clear how or why it came loose. An investigation into the cause is underway.
This is a case of “it could happen to you,” or “anything is possible”. All of us are one ‘sudden event’ from being seriously injured or killed in an accident. Could anything have been further from this unfortunate man’s mind than the thought that a tire might be propelled across the highway, smash through his windshield and kill him? How about the toddler who suffered serious, permanent, disabling injuries when a metal pole came lose from a truck and smashed through her mothers’ van window? Did the possibility of such an event occur to this young mother? Could she have ever imagined that something like that would happen to her precious child?
Obviously, these are two freak and unpredictable accidents, but the fact remains that these things can and do happen; they happen, every day, to people like you and me. They happen to people that say “it won’t happen to me.” And, they happen because someone was not careful enough to prevent them. Next time you think, “It won’t happen to me” ask yourself, instead, "why can’t it happen to me"? "What makes me so special"?
There are, simply, some things that you cannot prevent – a tire propelled through your windshield is an example. There are some things you can prevent: You can prevent accidents; you can stop texting while driving, drinking and driving; you can stop doing things that make you and others less safe on the road. What about the drivers of the two vehicles in question? Could the SUV driver have secured his tire better? Could the semi-driver have better secured his load?
Let these incidents be a reminder that none of us invincible. None of us are completely safe. Things can and do happen. Don’t follow a tragedy with the words “if only I had not been drinking; “if only I had not glanced at my mobile phone”. And, remember, that the greatest safety tool known to man is, today, under attack, by those who put business interests ahead of human interest. Lawsuits, the threat of being sued and having to pay substantial compensation for violations of public safety, are America’s number one protections against those who would ignore the public safety.
So, what does America do in the face of this threat? We listen to rhetoric, against our own self interest, that suggests that lawyers and victims are to blame for the country’s economic woes. Billion dollar corporate profits, executive compensation and golden parachutes, banks hoarding money and refusing to loan, home values tanking because of toxic mortgages that huge mortgage bankers have dumped on the taxpayers, foreclosures caused by evaporating home values, investments going down the tubes; these things, according to our voting patterns, have nothing to do with our economic woes. Ask the US Chamber and its supporters; it is all the fault of accident victims, their lawsuits, and their lawyers, don’t you know? And the public is listening, buying into and voting this nonsense.
In Michigan, for instance, where the jobless rate hovers at around 15%, the voting public just re-elected a Supreme Court Justice who has ruled in favor of business interests and against the public interest about 90% of the time. How can such behavior be reconciled with common sense? Did Michigan really understand the record of the person it elected? How many Michigan citizens actually studied the candidates? How many bothered to come to the polls and vote?
When we allow safety violators to continue to violate safety, bad things will happen, They may even happen to you. An "it can’t happen to me" attitude is dangerous to you and others. Even if you happen to escape injury, those around you may not be so lucky. Take action for safety, especially on our roadways. Become an informed citizen, a safety advocate. Follow the debate and speak up on behalf of the victims of those who violate or threaten safety. Vote for people who would protect public safety and throw those who don’t out of office. As a juror, punish wrongdoers. Every time you cast a safety-contrary vote, you become a little bit less safe. Isn’t it time we made safety everybody’s "big business"?
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a personal injury plaintiff while litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.