I think most everyone does this. -- BayleShanks
To the contrary; most people just laugh in the face of any twit who threatens to sue, as that is the cluck of the weak. I even laughed at a bona fide lawyer's Cease and Desist letter sent to me by Doctors Associates, who own the Subway fast food franchise. Don't be afraid of the law. The law is pretty sane on the balance. I think only those who are overly legalistic and overly paranoid (the CryptoNauts) will actually worry when some jackass mumbles something about some law neither of them understand. DefendAgainstParanoia. Remember that every legal case has two sides. -- SunirShah
It's not so much that people are afraid that they will lose in court; they cannot incur the cost of going to court, or of dealing with legal letters. You have to pay a lawyer to advice you, and then make time to talk with the lawyer. If you actually go to court, you spend an enormous amount of time doing so. It is the legal fees and the time that deters people, not just the chance of losing in court.
In countries like the US (I'm ignorant of everywhere else), the legal system tries hard to prevent innocent people from being convicted. It it not effective at preventing innocent people from needing to hire lawyers. Some would even argue that the system is biased this way, because lawyers (who are the people in charge here) think that it is only natural that lawyers often would need to be relied upon in modern life.
So, even if "the law is pretty sane on the balance" and "every legal case has two sides", that doesn't defeat the need to AvoidLegalRisk.
The vast majority of litigation is when someone sues you in civil court. There, you generally have no right to an attorney and will have to pay lots of money out of your own pocket,--but if you don't, you are taking a huge risk that you will lose on procedural grounds or because you don't understand the law. Moreover, even if you win, you will almost NEVER be awarded attorney's fees. Again, the standard of proof is MUCH lower, only "by the preponderence of evidence", NOT beyond a reasonable doubt. This basically means that the plaintiff must prove that his case is more likely true than not. In the end, you are not convicted or acquitted, you are found liable or not liable, and if liable, you are ordered to pay damages or perform some act, not to punish you, but to compensate the plaintiff. This carries no moral condemnation with it--but this is small consolation when you are bankrupted by a large award and your attorney's retainer. Moreover, if someone with a claim you correctly think is unfounded sues you for $5,000 and you refuse to settle (laughing it off like SunirShah), if you actually go to trial it will be a pyrrhic victory if you win and owe your attorney $15,000. Essentially you are playing litigation chicken, because the further the litigation goes the more you both pay in attorney's expenses no matter who wins. And if you just laugh it off and refuse to hire an attorney, the opposing side can see that, sue you, and often win by default or some other procedural grounds.
Courts will go to great lengths to defend pro se parties against frivolous lawsuits, but if the plaintiff has even the ghost of a good claim, a pro se client can and will commit irreversable procedural, tactical, or legal blunders. So go ahead and laugh it off, as long as you don't actually meet someone who is serious about suing you.
N.B. A lot of online LegalThreats? bandied about involve defamation. These usually can be laughed off, because defamation actions, which involve a lot of Constitutional issues, are highly disfavored by courts. That said, defamation does exist and does apply to online speech as much as any other, so if you say something actually damaging about someone that you know is false and this is blatant enough to be easily provable, you can end up paying for it big time. --NathanKennedy?