We don’t sue. Confused was my initial reaction after reading just the cover of David Engel's book. I wondered how that was even possible with the society we live in now where anyone can sue for anything. I then learned after reading the book that there are two paths once someone is involved in an injury of harm, and that was either lumping or claiming. Lumping meaning to accept and endure what happened to you, and claiming, which entails acting and doing something about what happened to you, in other words, seek legal aid. Engel believes and has support to back his belief that most Americans lump instead of claim. On page 23 of his book he has a table called “Responses to accidental injuries in the United States,” and in it 81% of people “did not consider claiming,” 10% “considered claiming but took no action,” and only 10% “took some form of action.” Not only is this happening in the United States, but England and Japan also have a high trend of injury victims not seeking lawsuits for the harm done to them, but just accepting what had happened to them. I was shocked to see the statistics on the fact that injured victims tend to lump, but I wanted to know why.
In wanting to know why I learned that many factors take place in when a victim decides to inevitably lump. A traumatic experience from the injury occurred could change a person drastically and making them not want to seek legal help in going after the injurer. The way society and a community will look at that person if they brought a lawsuit is in a negative, disapproving way. As Engel puts it on page 173, “think with our bodies,” thinking their judgment is clouded due to injury and if they were in right mind to begin with without an injury, would they have claimed. Is the injury that occurred considered to be enough pain for an injury to be claimed? With the injury occurred, could it have been avoided if the injured party was aware? If the injury happened through a product, people wait for a change in that product, however, taking the blame on themselves instead of going after the manufacturer. Is it in that person’s culture to claim or just to stay quiet and accept and live with the results? The people surrounding the injured party usually voice their opinions to not claim. After learning why people lump instead of claim, I agree with David Engel's point that the question is not why people do not take legal action, but why people do not claim, and the above stated reasons are why they do not and why lumping is an epidemic in our country.
Before reading Engel’s book my view on the United States dispute resolution system was that when someone sues, lawyers help that person get the maximum of what they deserve, from punitive damages to maximum damages. Also, that people often go to lawyers for legal advice, and in result file claims of injury and harm done to them. However, after reading Engel’s book I feel as if law and society sometimes do not coexist. Meaning, a lot of people, if they do end up claiming, talk to legal representatives and often end up regretting doing that or not following through with the claim. Also, finding out that many lawyers do not even take cases sometimes, and the rate of these cases being accepted have dropped was shocking. I thought the torts system was structured in a way to help a wrongfully injured party get what they deserve monetarily, but how can that be if no one wants to claim? I do not blame the lawyers for the fact the dispute resolution system is flawed; I do believe it is the factors on why many people lump instead of claiming, making it flawed.
If I were to reform the United States tort system I would make sure that it is an easy and simple process for anyone who is injured wrongfully to claim. Even if it is a natural injury as a chair to an automobile accident, without embarrassment, fear or doubt they can be compensated from their injurer. A lot of people are wrongfully injured and do not want to claim, and they end up lumping and it is because of the facts Engel talks about, and that the process is too much. However, my approach is not easily done because even if the tort system is reformed to be friendlier and accepting of all injury claims, the factors why almost all Americans lump are still a problem.