How the Media Drives the “Frivolous” Lawsuit Myth

How the Media Drives the Frivolous Lawsuit MythThe media often attacks what they deem to be frivolous lawsuits, dating back to the 90s. The reality is these lawsuits are not frivolous, and the victims are using their constitutional rights to get the justice they deserve. Sometimes these lawsuits start small, and we find a much larger problem. The media paints these lawsuits as no big deal, but some real victims require extensive medical treatment.

They would not need medical treatment if the companies and others who caused the injury were not negligent in their actions. When you suffer an injury, even if you believe it was a silly mistake or you are overreacting, you must speak with an Oklahoma City personal injury lawyer.

So-called “frivolous” lawsuits that addressed catastrophic injuries and harms

Some lawsuits seem frivolous because of how the media has painted them, but the truth behind them is very different. Often, we find that large corporations work hard to turn public opinion against lawsuits. An article in Vox mentions groups like Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse who work with the media to sway public opinion and completely disregard the legal aspects of these cases.

McDonald’s coffee is hot enough to cause third-degree burns

The most infamous lawsuit is the McDonald’s coffee case, which happened when a 79-year-old woman suffered third-degree burn injuries to her inner thighs when a McDonald’s coffee spilled in her lap. Initially, she only requested damages for her medical expenses associated with her skin grafts and hospitalization, but McDonald’s added insult to injury by offering her a measly $800, which would not cover her costs. The case went to trial, and eventually, the woman was awarded $200,000 for her losses plus $2.7 million in punitive damages.

The media made it seem like a joke, and McDonald’s used this to their advantage. They did not change the temperature of the coffee they sold, which further added fuel to the fire. A documentary was made regarding the case, siding with the fast-food giant. This landmark case should have made it easier for people to recover damages for their injuries, but instead made it more challenging.

Olive Garden’s hot appetizers led to an ER visit

An Olive Garden patron had to be airlifted after suffering a burn from eating a stuffed mushroom. The lawsuit details the woman’s pain by saying the restaurant chain did not warn her that the food item was hot and the mushroom got stuck in her throat. She was unable to breathe and suffered severe burns. She was able to get the mushroom out by throwing up but then had to go to the emergency room. From the hospital, she was airlifted to a special burn unit.

A woman had to sue her own nephew to get the help she needed

When you go to a birthday party, hugs are common, and you do not expect to suffer an injury from a big hug. That is precisely what happened to one woman, though: a hug from her nephew broke her wrist. There was a lot of scrutiny over an aunt suing her eight-year-old nephew. The media went into a frenzy, and everyone online began calling her the worst aunt ever. Homeowners’ insurance must pay for injuries on a property, so the woman was well within her rights to file an insurance claim.

However, the lawsuit was necessary because that was the only way to get the homeowner’s insurance to pay for her injury and medical bills. The aunt did explain that it was a technicality, and the family relationship did not suffer from the lawsuit. While the family understood the legal process, the media did not. And the aunt explains that in Connecticut, you cannot name the insurance company in a lawsuit, you must designate an individual. In this case, it was her nephew.

A victim of a drunk driver lost his leg because he couldn’t escape a defective phone booth

Around midnight one evening, Charles Brigbee was going about his routine of calling his girlfriend from a phone booth before going home. During his phone conversation, a car weaving through traffic erratically came careening towards him. Charles saw the car and tried to get out of the phone booth, but the door jammed, leaving him trapped inside and in the car’s path.

Others nearby and in another phone booth were able to get away, but Charles did not. He suffered severe injuries with a right leg amputation and the need for a skin graft. In his lawsuit, he does not only name the phone company but also the driver, and others. His personal injury lawyer named all relevant parties in his claim. Yet the media only focused on the phone company to diminish his claim.

The silver lining? The justice system worked in all of these cases

In all of these cases, it did not matter what the media said because the victims were able to get justice for their injuries and ailments. Legislators are also swayed by the media when they should not be, and instead of making it easier for people to file claims, they want to make it more difficult. They call it “tort reform,” and it took ten years for our own Oklahoma Supreme Court to strike down an unjust law that limited damages for the catastrophically injured. Even now, there are legislators and agitators out there who are clamoring to get it back, even though damage caps only hurt victims more.

Don’t let the media sway your opinion and make you believe you have no options. At Cunningham & Mears, our injury lawyers in Oklahoma City are here to help you get justice when someone causes you harm. If you need an attorney or have questions about your case, give us a call today. You can also fill out our contact form. Initial consultations are always free.