The American Fear of Being Sued
Something basic has been stolen from American life. We have lost much of our individual freedom due to the theft in our society. Our thieves come in the form of "sue happy" Americans. Doctors are paranoid, teachers are weakened and religious consultation is decreased. You would have to be a fool to say what you really think in the workplace. Increasingly, people believe that they cannot make a difference.
Today, the medical industry has been transformed. Doctors must live by a different code of ethics other than their oath. Legal fear has put the doctor-patient relationship in jeopardy. Today, physicians view patients as potential malpractice litigants. Therefore, doctors order unnecessary costly tests or avoid treating patients to insure safety from lawsuits. In Chicago, emergency room personnel refused to care for a boy who was shot, and had collapsed thirty feet outside the hospital door, because their legal duties were only to those inside. Because of the fear of lawsuits, the young boy was denied the opportunity to live. Not only are doctor-patient relationships affected, teachers and students are learning under precise laws.
Teachers no longer have the opportunity to discipline their students in fear of violating the student's rights. Students now dictate how classrooms are instructed. Teachers must be aware of their physical contact and ethical topics that can lead into false allegations. How can a student learn in this environment? Teachers need the ability to discipline students. Evicting the fear of lawsuits from teachers makes for a more productive atmosphere. The classroom is not the only place where safety and responsibility are weakened. Playgrounds have been plagued with frivolous lawsuits against the schools and each other. In 1996, a three-year-old boy and girl got into a pushing incident. The girls mother got angry and had words with the other mother. The angry mother then sued for a restraining order to keep the boy off the same playground. Could you believe the judge issued an injunction? What we once considered harmless childhood play is no longer allowed on our playgrounds. Seesaws, monkey bars, and merry-go-rounds are considered dangerous and a sign of the past.
When considering the past, faith has been an integral part of how society functions. No matter what faith, lawsuits do not discriminate. Philip K. Howard stated, "Nothing is sacred. Ministers now are...