Shit happens, right?
Not any more, it would seem. Thanks to increasing media coverage of celebrities embroiled in petty defamation debates, and those incessant ‘no win no fee’ adverts on TV where a mouth-breathing numpty talks us through the terrible day they fell off a chair at work and were subsequently lavished with eight thousand pounds, everybody wants a piece of the compensation pie.
Not long ago we heard about the chronic gambler who tried to sue William Hill for more than £2 million after an administrative error meant that he was able to continue betting after he’d asked them to ‘exclude him’. He was then quoted as saying: “The fact is that I did try to go through the right procedures and I was let down.” What planet is this man living on to assume that asking the bookies – where he frittered away over £7.5 million – to keep an eye on his gambling habits would constitute the ‘right procedure?’
Then yesterday, the courts awarded substantial damages to the parents of a boy who had suffered brain damage as the result of an accident on a bouncy castle. The couple who hired the bouncy castle have been sued for negligence, on the basis that the boy, who has Asperger syndrome, was allowed on the bouncy castle and was inadequately supervised. Surely, if the boy’s illness is such that he requires continual supervision, his parents would have done well not to leave him at a child’s party with an unqualified couple responsible for looking after hordes of other children too?
The Independent has a good article on cases like these, mainly from America (surprise surprise), which I read with growing indignance. I later relayed my views to my housemate, who’s just managed to wangle herself a two week extension on her dissertation because she has a cold, who told me about a friend of hers who managed to sue our local council for £2500. Apparently this girl was responsible for a pile up at a roundabout, but claimed that it was the council’s fault that she couldn’t see the road signs properly, because they weren’t placed adequately for short people.
Where has the attitude come from? In the golden days of yore people subscribed to the ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ school of thought and accepted that they should probably keep their damn eyes open when walking over a cobbled street or probably shouldn’t have that supersized burger meal if they’ve already had two heart attacks. But now the smallest taint of misfortune demands compensation and extensions and shouts of ‘me me me!’ and cries of entitlement. Our grandparents would be disgusted.