OK, so there we were in the conference hall during the last break, having just had the sh*t scared out of us by Scott Letourneau’s pitch about the dangers of doing business in the US (and how he’d teach us to avoid them in exchange for a sum marginally less than the GNP of a small 3rd world country) when I talk to this guy. He’s one of those who signs his posts “IAAL” rather than “IANAL”. He told me proudly about how he’d sued this small rural post office for thousands. The story went: he was walking out of the post office carrying a parcel. The parcel ‘obscured his view’ and he fell down the steps, injuring himself. So far, so usual. Now I tend to sympathise with anyone who hurts themselves: I have a friend who did much the same by stepping off the edge of a stage when chatting to someone behind her. However, rather than taking it lying down (if you see what I mean) he sued them on the grounds that it was their fault since the steps were ‘non-compliant’ with EU standards and there was no handrail. Now I don’t know about you, but I was brought up to hold myself responsible for my own actions. If I march along not looking where I’m going, it’s no-one else’s fault if I trip over something or fall down a hole.
Many of these rural post offices are in buildings that are centuries old, and some are even Listed, and there were NO regulations on step sizes etc when they were built. Also, most rural buildings were built with steps up to the door, whenever they could, to help keep rain and floodwater out. This guy had climbed those same steps to get into the shop. I’d be quite surprised if there wasn’t some form of ‘mind the step’ notice.
Despite this, the shop settled out-of-court. I utterly despise these leeches who rely on the Blame Culture to rake in thousands from the results of their own stupidity.
Tip: If you’re proceeding through life with reduced capacity (vision, hearing, dodgy legs etc) then TAKE MORE CARE.
Luckily, the UK isn’t quite so litigious as the US – Yet. However, if you’re in business, then you need to cover your posterior: I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the increased premiums from this claim tipped the sub post office over into non-viability, and it’s going to be hard for those of us who live outside major towns to manage without the local PO: at least until you can teleport physical objects across the Internet…