One of my friends is a lawyer, so one day I asked him how he makes a living.
"Frivolous lawsuits," he replied.
Most frivolous lawsuits get settled out of court, so you never hear about them. However, just this March many of you read about how a Toyota dealer from the Philadelphia area lost $15.7 million to a doctor who's questionable driving (according to the defense), and a supposedly bad ball joint (according to the plaintiff), caused a major car accident.
So, the person who actually caused the car accident escapes blame, but the Toyota dealer, on what must have been a very a busy day, probably overlooked upselling a ball joint (something that's not even a safety criteria for New York State safety inspections!) and they are down millions.
As a shop owner, that scares the heck out of me.
Also, I wonder as a business owner, do I get to sue the technician or service writer who failed at his job? And then, does he get to sue his parents for not bringing him up right? How far do we go with placing blame on a party that was not directly involved with a car accident, being that no one in the dealership was driving any of the vehicles involved?
I almost lost a lawsuit once because someone's A/C refrigerant leaked out of a hole I was trying to find with A/C dye. Why did this almost happen, even when I put dye on the invoice? You see, I didn't explicitly state that I put A/C dye in the vehicle in order to find a possible leak.
I keep signs all over the shop saying not to walk in unless escorted by a technician. Why? Because in the summer, customers like hovering around watching their car get worked on and will step into the fray uninvited, where they can potentially slip and sue you.
Once, after I told a customer to be careful, he bumped his head on my lift looking at his car. Thankfully, he didn't sue me, but if he didn't have any moral scruples he could have.
For me, it all goes back to a lesson my father taught me when I slipped and fell at school years ago. I needed stitches and the school offered us money not to sue them. My mother wanted to take the settlement, but my father (a shop owner) said that we could not.
I asked him why.
"You were an idiot and you fell," he said. "You can't sue someone over that."
That lesson stuck with me, but sadly, it has not been taught to or learned by others.