The more I learn about frivolous slip-and-fall claims, and the epidemic baseless personal injury lawsuits have become in this country, the more I liken them to cancer.
Like cancer, these suits don’t recognize sex or race. They don’t favor one political philosophy, or geography or economic region. They afflict anyone at any time. And like cancer, frivolous personal injury claims are difficult, costly and painful to battle and sadly, more often than not, result in the death of its victim, in this case bankrupting a business.
These lawsuits are a travesty of our civil justice system. They are the scourge of not only professional snow and ice managers, but of all small business owners in every economic center.
Tort reform, though, is like cancer research. It’s the process that provides us with hope, and it promises a treatment – maybe even a cure – that will keep these suits in check.
So, I’m asking you to do a few things.
One, you must stay patient. Tort reform is slow – especially regarding slip-and-fall claims – but progress is being made. The plaintiff’s bar is a powerful lobbying group fighting hard to maintain the status quo. It’s an uphill battle, but we are gaining ground and it’s a battle that can be won.
Two, you must get involved. In this month’s cover story, one of Matt Fullenbaum’s most important messages is that the voice of a unified group is much louder and affective than the voice of any one individual. Certainly, the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) and its government affairs committee is one way for you to get involved with the tort reform issue. But the ASCA isn’t your only avenue for action. The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) is a group on the frontline of tort reform. At the very least, check out this group’s website (atra.org) and get on its mailing list to stay educated and informed on the progress being made nationwide and at the state level. On the local level, join your community’s small business group and/or chamber of commerce and keep tort reform issues at the top of their agendas.
Lastly, you must hold your public officials accountable. Press them on tort reform issues. Get them on the record about what they plan to do. Stress the negative and often catastrophic impact baseless personal injury claims have not only on your business, but all small businesses. Remind them that small businesses are the foundations of this country’s economic health and a fair business environment is essential to success. Let them know that your vote counts.
Some of you – okay, a lot of you – have voiced to me your frustration that not enough progress has been made and that change isn’t happening fast enough. I need you to trust me when I say, “Stay the course.” Through our combined efforts we can create a fair playing field for professional snow and ice contractors to be successful, and we can stomp out this scourge once and for all.
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