Do You Have “Personal Responsibility Bias”?

Leave it up to the trial lawyers to somehow make feeling personally responsible for one’s own actions a bad thing. They have attached the not-so-nice moniker “personal responsibility bias” to this phenomenon. A person affected with personal responsibility bias has traditional family values, strong religious beliefs, and a keen sense of personal responsibility. They tend to see the world with bright line rules on how people should act. They think people should be self-reliant, responsible, and self-disciplined. They understand that when people act irresponsibly and are not self-disciplined, there are consequences.

So what’s so wrong with that? Well, people who suffer from “personal responsibility bias” hold others accountable for their conduct. They let them “suffer” the consequences of their actions. My Mom called these “logical consequences” and they were often punctuated with corporal punishment. But for trial lawyers trying to play the “blame game” on behalf of their wounded plaintiffs (whether emotionally, physically, or economically), these are the last people they want on the jury. In fact, a jury full of people with personal responsibility bias won’t let plaintiff’s’ lawyers play the “blame game.”

To increase their chances of success, the American Trial Lawyers Association (or “ATLA”) began marketing and selling a handbook to their members, written by David A. Wenner, for a whopping $800.00. The point of the handbook is to help trial lawyers identify people with “personal responsibility bias” so they can keep them from serving on the jury.

For you business owners, this is just another example of the forces aligned to attack your success. They are well organized, and have sufficient funding. How do you combat them? What is your defense?

First, identify people, by name or class, who have the opportunity to attack you via a plaintiff’s lawyer. Employees, consumers, customers, partners, spouses of partners, suppliers, tenants, landlords, competitors, all may have the opportunity to attack.

Next, watch the forms and written documents you use with each class of people. Have them reviewed and modified regularly.

Third, take steps to protect your hard-earned assets from any and all creditors. This must be done before there is any specific threat.

Fourth and finally, start implementing your defense now.

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