... issues and tissues with a touch of the spicy from the spirit hag ...

 

 

I’m becoming tired of hearing about various public areas, services and attractions being closed or scaled-down due to the operators/owners being unable to afford spiraling public liability insurance premiums.

 

The concept of public liability insurance is a sound one: someone becomes injured or otherwise disadvantaged due to liability or neglect on your property, they sue you, the insurance company pays up and they go away.

 

This prevents you from losing your entire business due to one small incident. At least, that is what it is supposed to do.

 

Yet, with the incidence of public liability claims on the rise, insurers are reacting to huge court-awarded settlements by raising premiums to what they say are ‘user pays’ (i.e.: unaffordable) levels, forcing businesses to either risk operating uninsured, or pass on costs to consumers.

 

Whilst the government and the insurers play a never-ending game of ‘toss the hot potato’ with the blame issue, it seems to have escaped everyone what the actual cause of all these premium rises really is.

 

The combination of the exorbitant ‘public liability’ cash amounts awarded by courts, plus the triviality (and occasional insanity) of the ‘injuries’ passed for ‘compensation’ under public liability law is crippling this ‘system’ into a social and economic mess.

 

In 2001, an elderly Australian woman was awarded damages in the sum of one hundred thousand dollars for burns from McDonalds coffee. When I read the headline, I imagined some horror scene where a clumsy employee had dropped a pot of boiling java on the old dears’ head.

 

But not so. She went through the drive-though. And she dropped her own cup of McDonalds coffee into her own lap, with her own hand, in her own car !. And she still sued them !. And she won !.

 

How is that possible ?. Do we need to be told to specifically NOT drop our hot coffee into our laps ?. Well, some of us apparently do.

 

If you or I go somewhere, and we don’t see a sign strictly forbidding an activity, may we then automatically assume that we may do what we like ?. No !. Of course we may not !. Just because no sign says “Do Not Pee On The Carpet” doesn’t mean we will, now, does it ?. Or, does it ?.

 

There is a huge sign on a Southern NSW beach that says ‘No Diving – Variable Depth’. Some tourist did it anyway and broke his back. He’s back home now with 4 million Australian dollars because a court ruled that the sign ‘wasn’t clear enough’.

 

Another tourist, compensated for injuries received from a crocodile mauling in a Queensland National Park, said that he SAW the crocodiles before he swam, but (and I quote) “As there was no sign saying that they were dangerous, I just went ahead and swam”.

 

(Uh-huh. He needs a sign to tell him that crocodiles are dangerous ?. Should I make him another one that says “PANTS first, THEN your shoes” ?).

 

By placing the onus on business owners and landholders to keep people safe, we are encouraging the age of the petty personal injury lawsuit and discouraging individuals to use common sense to maintain their own bodily safety.

 

Where does personal responsibility belong in all of this ?.

 

Trip over a tree root ?. That couldn’t be YOUR own silly fault for not looking where you were going, could it ? ...‘course not !. (And you can sue the landowner for that sprained toe, too. Not to mention the emotional distress inflicted upon you by the neighbours getting any eyeful of your under-chunders).

 

If I elected to go out and consume a large quantity of alcohol and then take a nap on the highway, I would not feel self-righteous enough to sue the barman that served me because a car ran over my ass (yes, someone really did that).

 

I would take my (flattened) ass to a hospital, yes, but I would know whose fault it was that I was there, and THAT makes all the difference.

 

 


Comments
on Mar 16, 2005
Mig, I've been wanting to write something about this ridiculous situation as well. I believe there is a sub-class of folk out there who aren't willing to take any responsibility for anything themselves. Like you pointed out, how stupid would you have to be to go into water where live crocodiles are swimming? And as for the wanker who dived into the water at Bondi, hit his head on a sandbar and sued Waverley council, he, in fact, is Australian. Now, any Aussie growing up near the coast KNOWS there is a most likely a sandbar off their favourite beach. This particularly wanker started the whole problem we now have with Public Liability premiums being pushed through the roof.

There is another sub-class of this group and that is the arses who move into an area, for instance, around Luna Park in Sydney, or near the Opera House then form lobby groups to try and 'stop the noise'. These people should be prevented from breeding as they will only pass on their ignorance to their children.

Great piece, mate. Well done and I'm glad you beat me to it.
on Mar 16, 2005
Natural selection? The idiots are announcing themselves so that they can be more easily targeted?
on Mar 16, 2005
*sigh*

I wish this whole public liability thing didn't make me so angry. Are they going to fence off my favourite national park just so I don't fall off a cliff? And will I be able to sue the government for providing the roads on which I've had an accident?

When I was growing up my parents taught me to take responsibility. When I fell off a bike going down a huge hill they gave me sympathy, but also taught me the lesson about safety and I was in no way confused about who's fault it was that I had, at the age of five, taken my brother's (who's eight years my senior!) mountain bike, catapulted off it and used my face as a brake. These days I'd probably be able to sue both my folks and my brother for negligence!

I don't know where this balme culture has come from in Oz. It is certainly no where near as prevalent in the UK. I thought us Aussies were just supposed to get on with things?

I could go on about this forever and still probably not run out of steam! Great article (and nice Far Side reference!)

Suz xxx
on Mar 16, 2005
ANd here I thought it was just an American idiocy.  In this case, Misery does not like company and I do not wish this on you, but I guess our societies are too close in more ways than one.
on Mar 16, 2005

Natural selection? The idiots are announcing themselves so that they can be more easily targeted?

This would be true if we let them kill themselves as happened in the earlier centuries.  But with Modern Medicine, and all the stupid nanny laws protecting the idiots, they continue to breed and eat at society like a cancer.

on Mar 16, 2005
Yes i heard about the stupid Mc Donald lawsuits. What's even crazier is that the courts are on the side of the suers.
We're far from that level of craziness here, so the Public Liability premiums are still affordable for most businesses. Maybe that's a thing we should yell out to potential foreign investors
on Mar 16, 2005
Yes i heard about the stupid Mc Donald lawsuits. What's even crazier is that the courts are on the side of the suers.
We're far from that level of craziness here, so the Public Liability premiums are still affordable for most businesses. Maybe that's a thing we should yell out to potential foreign investors


Yea, but you wont let the rest of the world into Eden!
on Mar 17, 2005
I'm surprised no one has pointed a finger at the truly guilty here in this situation - TRIAL LAWYERS - these vulture get 33% of the settlement plus legal expenses.
Here in North Carolina watching daytime TV will get you exposure to well over 25 Accident and Injury attorney commercials in any given hour.
Hell, our favorite son Presidential candidate, John Edwards, made his millions ( and bought his senate seat ) with legal fees representing "victims".
Tort reform will go only so far, as the sharks are already looking for new victims. As a car dealer, our association has warned that vehicle sales are becoming the new cornicopia for law suit happy lawyers, get this;

If you sell a car "As-Is", with no warranty, and out of good will you do something as trivial as change a headlight bulb after the sale, you have invalidated the "As-Is" designation, and have provided an implied warranty for the entire car.
One dealer who did just that has now been forced to replace an engine, transmission, and tires on a car he sold 5 years earlier, all because he was kind enough to fix a head light....
My documentation requirements and insurance cost have multiplied three fold in the last year, I am required to not only have a federal form signed acknowledging the As Is status, but my association reccomends another form acknowledging the signing of the federal form, a bill of sale as well as a delivery conformation, and on and on.
A typical transaction now requires over 15 forms ( bilingual transactions require 31, duplicates in both languages plus a translator certificate ) Missing one form opens me up to the liability of a law suit which begins at three times damages plus legal fees.....

A terrible tragedy happened the other week, a cruise ship full of lawyers sank, and all perished, the tragedy..several unsold berths were reported
on Mar 05, 2006
Plese, help me to untwist my site !!!
on Mar 05, 2006
Whenever I read stuff like this it reminds me of that song by the Eagles, Get Over It

We got a Darwin law where I live that if an emergency service has to rescue you because you were stupid; you’re going to pay for the emergency services. Somebody contested it once and the judge pretty much said that nobody has a constitutional right to be stupid at taxpayes expense.
on Mar 05, 2006
I'm surprised no one has pointed a finger at the truly guilty here in this situation - TRIAL LAWYERS - these vulture get 33% of the settlement plus legal expenses.

Amazingly this is one of the biggest reasons, Lawyers, why because while we have a shortage of doctors due to too few places in our universities, we are churning out lawyers a agreater pace than ever before in history, and not just in the Western World, India has more Lawyers than any country , except for the US, they are producing 75000 new lawyers a year, so a the slice of the pie decreases new form of business need to be developed. Just look at the fact that US and Australian firms are now outsurcing to India so they increase through put at a lower overall cost to the firm, the client still pays the full rate.

One solution would be to lower the places avilable to lawyers and increase the places for people who expertise we do need, like Doctors and Nurses.
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