You hear every day about people who bring lawsuits for an accident or injustice that befell them. You read about sensationalistic amounts of money people demand as a result of their injuries. Aside from the catastrophic and obvious injuries that occur, you may ask yourself why can someone obtain money as a result of the suffering and pain that they have endured?
The reality is that the injured victim has no other option in New York. The person who they believe caused harm cannot put them back together again. Our system of justice requires that the person who cause harm makes the injured victim whole again. This rationale goes back to biblical times. Some people attribute the saying “an eye for an eye” to this theory of justice.
IN MODERN TIMES
In modern times, when someone causes harm to another through carelessness, that person or company is often unable to make that person whole again. Doctors may attempt to fix and the person as best as possible, but often serious injuries take a greater toll than just what can be observed on the surface.
Devastating and serious injuries affect not just the injured victim but their families, their work, their personality, their activities and how they interact with everyone around them. If the person who caused harm cannot make the person whole again, what else is available to compensate the injured victim?
The only thing reasonably available is to award the injured victim money as a form of compensation for their troubles, their pain, the suffering they have endured and their lost wages, among other things.
Critics often argue that lawyers are to blame for large jury awards. They argue that lawyers are the ones who encourage lawsuits. On the other hand, had the person who caused the harm not been careless, the injuries never would have occurred. Nor would there be an issue as to how much to compensate the injured victim for all their troubles.
We can all agree that someone who suffered significant injuries, and had nothing to do with causing those injuries, should be fully compensated for all of the damages and injuries they have suffered as well as all of the problems they are expected to have in the foreseeable future.
CAPS ON PAIN AWARDS
The same argument applies to states that have artificially applied limits to how much an injured victim can recover for their troubles. This is often known as a cap on pain and suffering awards. While it is true that every injured victim experiences pain differently and has different levels of injury, when a state artificially creates an amount above which an injured victim cannot obtain justified compensation, is simply outrageous.
Remember, an injured victim will often have to live with the debilitating and disabling injuries for many years into the future, if not their entire lifetime. Some might consider an injured victim to be “damaged goods.” As a result of their injuries and expected disabilities, they may be prevented or limited from enjoying their family life, their worklife and be unable to participate in those enjoyable activities that they previously had no problem doing.
WHAT DOES NEW YORK DO?
In New York, there are no artificial caps on awards for victims of pain and the suffering.
In a perfect world, accidents would not happen. In a perfect world with magic, we could then wave a wand and make an injured victim whole again so they had no problems, no disability and no injury. In a perfect world, wrongdoers and careless individuals would stand up and take responsibility for their actions that cause harm to others.
The fact is that we do not live in a perfect world. Our system of justice requires that people and companies that cause harm to others as a result of carelessness and negligence stand up and take responsibility for their actions. Our justice system requires that those individuals make payment to the injured victims to make them whole and compensate them for the harm they have suffered through no fault of their own.
Our system of justice works. Compensating injured victims is the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do in biblical times and it's the right thing to do today.