Have We Gone Sue Crazy?

January 16th, 2009 by Kathy McManus

Is WhoCanISue.com an incubator for irresponsible lawsuits?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution about personal responsibility, you might have asked yourself, “Who can I help?”

But would you ever ask, “Who can I sue?”

That question is the focus of WhoCanISue.com, an online service that matches potential clients with lawyers, while begging a different question: does the site’s blunt come-on irresponsibly encourage more lawsuits?

No, says the Miami attorney who founded WhoCanISue and sees it as the future “go-to choice when people feel they’ve been wronged and are looking for answers.”

The site is searched through suggested “grievance” categories, like Medical Malpractice, Family Law, and Accidents. If you haven’t slipped on a banana peel, perhaps you slipped on a sub-prime mortgage, which is discussed under Mortgage Fraud in the “Hot Topics” section of potential reasons to sue someone.

After answering a series of online questions, users receive a list of lawyers willing to be contacted for possible representation in a lawsuit. The service is free for potential plaintiffs, but lawyers pay to be included on the site. “I don’t think WhoCanISue.com is going to, by itself, increase the number of lawsuits there are,” says its founder, “but it may make people more aware of what their rights are.”

Critics, however, contend that WhoCanISue makes a mockery of the legal system by suggesting that lawsuits are “frivolous and an easy way to make money.”

“Frankly, the whole process is not only scary, it is bound to give the public a rancid taste in their mouths about the profession,” fumed an article in Chicago Lawyer magazine. “As if there aren’t enough lawyers out there inventing lawsuits, now we’re going to invite the public to do so,” said a prominent trial attorney of WhoCanISue. “It encourages, if not creates lawsuits.”

Tell us what you think: What’s the verdict on WhoCanISue—responsible site for the aggrieved or incubator for irresponsible lawsuits? Has suing become too easy?