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

Subject: Re: 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: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 11:36:17 -0400


Jane wrote:
>
> I've often wondered if the "forced to sue" culture in the US doesn't have
as
> much to do with the lack of a comprehensive free-at-point-of-service
health
> service as anything else.
>
Jane brings up an excellent point here, and I have often wondered the same
thing myself, especially after living in Europe (Belgium) for several years.
The kinds of lawsuits we are talking about here are virtually non-existent
in Belgium. Indeed, a Belgian friend who is a lawyer said that these kinds
of suits would be laughed out of court and get the lawyers bringing them
disbarred. Is it because Belgians have a greater sense of individual
responsibility than Americans? I doubt it. Rather I think that it is because
their various social safety nets take away much of the incentive to sue when
*it* happens. (*it* being the kind of catastrophic occurrance for which no
amount of individual responsibility can compensate.)

The American system has no mechanism, other than individual insurance
policies, to handle *it*. When *it* exceeds the value of their insurance
policies and all their other resources, victims are forced (yes, there's
that word again) to go hunting for the deepest pockets, no matter how remote
those pockets are from *it*. And in order to do that, they must assign
blame.

Our failure to recognize that *it* happens has a large number of
consequences, one of which is even positive. On the negative side, otherwise
good people, faced with millions of dollars in expenses, end up suing
companies for really bogus reasons. Unscrupulous people, and their lawyers,
seeing that so-and-so hit the jackpot with a trumped up lawsuit, try to get
themselves a piece of this action. (I would wager that if you look at
lawsuits and settlements over a few years, you would find that the same few
people appear as plaintiffs far more than their share of the time.) On the
positive side, I think that products, public areas, etc., in this country
are much safer than they would be without the suits. I remember some
situations in Belgium where I looked at something and thought "Wow, you'd
never see this in the states! The manufacturer could get sued into
oblivion." Likewise, the manual for the car I bought in Belgium was much
thinner than its American counterpart would have been. It left out all the
warnings.




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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?: From: Jane Carnall

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