“Step right up. Just sign your name we’ll enter you into the lawsuit lottery jackpot. Injured in a car accident? Step right up. Injured during surgery? Step right up? Killed by a stray bullet? Step right in. Did you fall and break your leg? No problem, just step right in to our lawsuit lottery jackpot where you’ll have a chance to win millions and live on easy street for the rest of your life. That’s right folks. You too can be a winner in the lawsuit lottery jackpot.” (Carnival music is playing in the background).
“What do I have to do to enter?” asked a curious onlooker.
“Simple,” said the man in front of the tent. “First you have to stand in the street and get hit by that Mack truck over there. Then, you have to make sure the tires run over your legs. Oh yes, make sure the truck is loaded with equipment so the total weight of the truck is about 40,000 pounds. Then, when the truck has finished running over you, make sure you’re still conscious so you feel the excruciating pain of having your legs crushed to a pulp. Then, when you’re bleeding to death, make sure you go into cardiac arrest and are revived by the paramedics.”
“I forgot to tell you...when you get to the hospital, make sure that the trauma surgeons amputate your legs from below your waist because there is no usable skin, bones, veins or arteries to use to reconstruct your legs.
Remember, they were in a pulp, and are now useless to you.”
The onlooker stood there gawking with his mouth wide open but no sound coming out.
“But wait!” said the man, continuing his talk.
“After the surgeons cut off both of your legs, you must remain in the hospital for two months recuperating, then learning how to get around on a wheelchair, which we’ll give you, absolutely free, for the rest of your life.”
“But what about all the activities I could do before, like play baseball, swimming, skiing and riding my bicycle?” asked the onlooker.
“Ah that,” said the man with some hesitation. “You see, all those activities, you have to give them all up. You’re now officially a ‘permanently disabled cripple’. You can’t go around doing those great activities that you used to do once we’ve labeled you a cripple. I mean, what would your neighbors think if we said you’re a handicapped man and they saw you playing basketball or changing a tire on your car? Sorry, that just wouldn’t work."
The onlooker was white as a ghost. He didn’t know what to say.
“Hey kid, not to worry, if you win this jackpot, you’ll be on easy street forever!” said the knowledgeable man with the handlebar mustache and the straw hat and the organ music playing in the background.
“But, how do I get that jackpot?” asked the young man with some trepidation.
“Simple. Just find a lawyer who handles these types of cases. Then file a lawsuit in New York...but you’ll have to hurry because you don’t want to have your case thrown out if it’s not timely. Did you know that you don’t even have to pay a single penny to start your lawsuit? How great is that? Your lawyer does that for you. Isn’t our justice system great?
Well, anyway, as I was saying, all you have to do is talk to your lawyer and after about six months, you’ll go into his office and talk to some other stuffy lawyers who will ask you lots of questions about what happened to you and what you can’t do now. That’s it. You don’t have to show up again until trial.”
“Trial?” asked the young man. “Why trial?”
“Well, without going to trial you can’t get an outrageous verdict that will blow the lid off all other verdicts in the past. Otherwise, your lawyer might just settle your case early to get you chump change,” said the hawker with a straight face.
“How will going to trial get me into the lawsuit lottery jackpot?” the onlooker asked with some interest.
The reply was amazing.
“That’s how you actually enter the drawing contest. See...going to trial is a crapshoot. Even if you have a good case a jury may send you home with little or no money. Why? Who knows- it’s a total crapshoot. But if you have a really good attorney who inflames the jury and shows them gory, bloody pictures of you at the accident scene, they’ll get really angry with the truck driver and his company and want to sock it to them hard.
That’s the part of the crapshoot that gets you your millions. Well, almost,” the man said.
“Tell me more,” said the onlooker.
“If the jury really hates the trucker who caused your accident, they award you millions and millions of dollars.”
“And that’s it? You mean I leave the court house with buckets full of money?” asked the eager onlooker, getting that hungry look in his eye.
“Ah, no, not exactly,” came the reply.
“You see, the defense will argue to the trial judge that the award was outrageous and must be reduced. Even if the trial judge agrees and reduces your award, the defense will still not be happy. Then, they’ll argue to a higher court that the award is so outrageous that it shocks the conscious of the court.”
“Then do I get the buckets of money you told me about?” asked the oblivious onlooker.
“Ah, no, not exactly,” came the reply.
“The higher court can do one of four things:
They can throw out your verdict,
They can reduce it,
They can increase it, or
They can send you back for a new trial.
You see, that’s also part of the crapshoot. You just never know what you’re going to wind up with.”
“I’ll still take my chances,” said the dazed onlooker.
“In that case,” the straw man replied, “you should know that there’s a chance you’ll get nothing.”
“How can I live on easy street with my injuries if I get nothing?” he asked incredulously.
“Well, you can’t. You’d have to go on welfare and on disability, and you’d probably be homeless, but hey, you gave it your best shot. That’s what a lottery is all about, most will lose and only a few will win. You’ll still have your free wheelchair!”
“Thanks for stopping by,” said the man with the handlebar mustache. “If you want more information, just step right in...”