Published: August 26, 2012
I once was threatened with a defamation lawsuit for comparing a trial lawyer to an intestinal parasite.
The suit was dropped after the intestinal parasite settled for an apology.
It is just me, or are trial lawyers on the increase?
The number of obnoxious TV commercials certainly is on the rise. You know the ones I'm talking about: some goober-head is dancing to the "Muskrat Ramble," turning cartwheels and partying in the third degree with a bevy of smoking-hot aerobics instructors when he pauses to catch his breath to get serious.
"I was going down Interstate 24 late one night when an 18-wheeler rear-ended me and trial lawyer "Sharky" got me a settlement of $400,000. If you're ever lucky enough to be rear-ended by an 18-wheeler, call him and get ready to boogie."
The other night, I was watching my favorite TV show, "Desperate Prison Bachelorettes," and it was hard to follow the plot for all the personal-injury commercials.
In one, an "actual client" wearing a neck brace said he received a settlement of $100,000 when he bumped his head on a low doorway, prompting the precedent-setting suit man vs. doorway. The jury ruled that the doorway was negligent for not warning the man that it was low.
However, here's what the commercial didn't tell us about the $100,000 settlement:
"Sharky" received half as his standard fee.
From the other half, $30,000 was used to retain expert head-bump witnesses.
That left $20,000, of which $19,500 was deducted for miscellaneous expenses, such as three-martini lunches to discuss trial strategy.
The remaining $500 covered paper clips and office supplies.
That left no actual cash for the injured client.
But, he got to keep the neck brace.
I once had a personal experience with a personal-injury lawyer.
My daughter, Susan, who at the time was a teenager, frequently mistook Granny White Pike for the backstretch at Daytona. She rear-ended a motorist who for some reason came to a dead stop at a stop sign.
It wasn't a hard collision; it barely dinged the chrome on the "cash victim's" rear bumper, but he claimed he suffered whiplash.
Whiplash is like global warming and life on Mars – its existence depends on which expert you ask.
Susan's victim was an aspiring, country music songwriter who claimed that the back pain kept him from writing any hit tunes. I suggested he use the experience for inspiration and write "My Achy Breaky Back" for Billy Ray Cyrus.
Instead, he hired a trial lawyer who said $500,000 would make his client feel better.
My insurance company eventually settled with the intestinal parasite – Oops, I mean the dedicated and highly respected personal injury lawyer.
Susan moved to New York, where today she regales her friends with stories about growing up in Nashville, a place you literally can't drive down the street without running over an aspiring songwriter.
My life and blood pressure eventually got back to normal.
I was a tad jittery while the settlement was being negotiated.
I had checked my bank balance and discovered I was a tad short on the $500,000 sought by the trial lawyer.
Thankfully, I didn't have to come up with that much quick cash, which meant I could stop cruising I-24 late at night hoping to get rear-ended by an 18-wheeler.