Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?

Subject: Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?
From: "Bob Hooker" <rlhooker -at- telocity -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 12:35:38 -0400

> > Unfortunately, we've seen so many instances of juries
> > rewarding idiotic behavior, it's easy to believe.
> >
> > Jo Byrd

Far from rewarding idiotic behavior, I think that juries are actually acting
quite rationally in that they are doing the only thing they can do given the
nature of the system.

Consider this: is there anyone who can honestly say that they've never done
anything really dumb? This doesn't mean that people are dumb, it just means
that we all have our moments. Normally, dumb mistakes can be written off as
just that, but sometimes they have catastrophic consequences that kill,
maim, or leave someone in need of constant care for the rest of their lives.
These consequences can have a severe financial impact on the victim's
family. Imagine having to maintain someone in a nursing home for decades.

Unfortunately, other than the lawsuit, our society has no mechanism for
dealing with these catastrophes . Victims or their families are forced to
sue anybody and everybody who has any connection with the accident, no
matter how remote, to find the money. In order to get the money, they have
to assess blame. Yes, it sometimes requires quite a stretch of the
imagination and yes, it is fundamentally dishonest, but it's the way the
system works.

So please consider the next time you read in the newspaper about someone
winning a multi-million dollar lawsuit for a claim that appears to be bogus
on its face that there may be more to the story. After the lawyers takes
their cut, which is I believe around 25-33%, the victim's family may be
paying medical bills, nursing home fees, etc., that make the what remains of
the money look paltry.

As for the tech writing tie-in, among other things these kinds of suits
cause user manuals to be copiously sprinkled with inane warnings. (My Toyota
owner's manual would have you thinking that the car is really a nuclear bomb
on a hair trigger.) But, given the system, what else are you going to do?

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