As a self-governing profession, the legal field is bound by rules of professional conduct. One such rule prohibits attorneys from bringing frivolous lawsuits, in an attempt to decrease lawsuits that cause financial harm and emotional stress to other parties without having a basis in the law. Lawyers are obligated to follow these rules and are required to ensure that the cases they file are not frivolous. However, there is the occasional incident where these rules are not followed. As the opinion piece above points out, these incidents mar the reputation of plaintiff’s injury attorneys who represent clients with legitimate cases. The author looks at the recent case against Dr. Oz, by a man who used one of Dr. Oz’s at-home remedies and ended up with third degree burns on his feet. He looks at this case, along with several others, as examples of frivolous cases brought despite the rules against them.
However, there is also an issue with the way the media views cases, which often becomes the way society views the cases. What the media bills as ridiculous or frivolous is often quite the opposite. One such example was the famous McDonald’s coffee case, where an elderly woman spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s. The media mocked the case and pointed to it as an example of how litigious our society has become. However, the reality is quite different. Mrs. Liebeck suffered severe burns, and required painful medical procedures. Recently, the documentary “Hot Coffee” was released, showcasing the full extent of Mrs. Liebeck’s damages. This documentary proved that the media had trivialized what were actually significant injuries experienced by the elderly woman.
Cases such as Mrs. Liebeck’s serve as examples of the incorrect portrayal of attorneys and personal injury clients. We, as personal injury attorneys, are here to serve our clients and procure justice for them when they have been seriously injured. In order to do so effectively, we must continue to promote legitimate cases, which in turn increases society’s support of this important area of law.