Most lawyers are like the opportunistic infections that attack the weakened immune system of heroin addicts. You can scrape off the scabs that encrust the skin, but if you don’t treat the underlying addiction, they’ll just grow back.
Or more plainly, lawyers are the symptoms and not the disease. That there are so many is an indication of deeper trouble, signs of a fundamental imbalance with the body politic.
In many “tort” lawsuits of the slip-‘n-fall kind, at least three things have gone wrong:
- A greedy plaintiff, with no notion of personal responsibility, decides that “somebody” has to pay for their “pain and suffering;”
- A jury agrees that since the defendant has more money than the plaintiff, they should socialize that money; or, in the manner of a French soldier, a company decides to take the legal abuse and pay up without a fight: a practice which encourages future lawsuits;
- And a lawyer with dollar signs for pupils decides to “get his.”
Incidentally, some Republicans wanted to include tort reform in the health care bill, but it was not allowed. Perhaps because the Trial Lawyers Association donates enormous sums to Democrat candidates and the DNC; much more than they give to the other side. See, for example, this New York Times article: Trial Lawyers Pour Money Into Democrats’ Chests.
After the ambulance has been chased down and the legal proceedings are over, whoever has the deepest pockets is made to pay. Knowing that the disease is rampant, most large companies wisely inoculate themselves against catastrophic money loss by purchasing insurance.
So when counselors come calling, companies refer them to their insurers. The insurers negotiate a structured settlement with the lawyer. This is typically in the form of an annuity, perhaps coupled with an up-front cash payment. The lawyer takes his 33% cut—plus office fees—gives the rest to the plaintiff, and then returns to the hunt.
This sequence of events is so usual that it is highly ritualized. It won’t be long, I imagine, before companies wise up and eliminate the insurer, who is nothing more than a middle man. Businesses will soon be able to pay directly into a lawyer’s fund—a sort of legal protection racket—so that the companies are completely insulated from harassing lawsuits. The attorneys themselves will figure how to best split the dough with “consumers.”
My proof? I don’t have any numbers, only the indirect evidence of Peach Tree Settlement and J.G. Wentworth.
These two are the most ubiquitous of the many companies that run endless, expensive commercials in which they promise to buy your “structured settlement.” You’ve heard them. “I need my money. Where is my money?” whines an ex-plaintiff in one prominent radio ad.
If lawyers are the disease, then these financial firms are like the vultures who pick the carcasses of the victim’s bodies clean. They pay hard cash for the ex-plaintiff’s annuities, typically at a highly discounted rate. They’re in the long game: a small amount of dollars up front buys them a guaranteed income stream for decades.
The ads for Peach Tree and Wentworth have been on radio and television for years. There are so many of them that you have to work at not hearing or seeing them. Naturally, these commercials, which show no signs of abating, aren’t cheap.
They must, therefore, have many, many customers else they would not have remained in business. And that means that there are an enormous number of lawsuits to create the stream—rather, torrent—of customers.
Therefore, there are too many lawyers.
It’s worse yet. All these facts lead to the conclusion that most of the money from law suits are going into the hands not of “consumers” but of legal and financial companies.
My prediction of the disease mutating and becoming more virulent;.that is, of companies eliminating the insurance middle man, is on track.