One of the issues that is sure to come up in a death case or a serious injury case is that getting a check from the defendant will not bring the dead person back. And it will not make the pain of the injured person go away.
That is a fair point. However, it does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that restitution should not be made. It’s simply a realization that because of the jury’s inability to create or to do away with pain and to restore time with a loved one or to resurrect our dead loved ones. That is the reason that all we have to offer is money.
That’s why in Deuteronomy and Leviticus you see a civil case being resolved for checks rather than for an eye for an eye as in criminal cases. We can all agree this is a positive outcome. We certainly do not want a man who has a son who is injured in an accident to then feel entitled to injure the defendant’s son in some type of retaliation. The reason that I have no problem asking a person for money for my injured client is that it’s up to the injured client to make the best of their bad situation. For instance I once represented a pastor who was packing up to go on a large trip to Ireland that he had looked forward to for eight years. It’s very hard for a pastor to get any type of time off from the church for very long. And in this case he probably had used all of his resources to save money to buy a wonderful trip for his wife for a memorable second honeymoon. Then, he was almost killed by a negligent driver and he was at about 75% of capacity of his old self. However, because of a negotiated six-figure settlement he was able to not only to return to Ireland with his bride but also to bring his children and make the trip much longer and a much higher quality trip than he could’ve afforded on his own. That’s what he chose to do with it. I think he deserved it.
These cases are all about personal responsibility. If the defendant steps up and personally pays for everything that went wrong that’s fine but if not their insurance needs to and usually won’t without a lawsuit to make them. All injuries are personal injuries and that means that they affect each person differently.
Whatever you might choose to do with money to deal with your problems may be quite different from another person. And I think we should have that freedom. So while money will never bring back a dead child nor will it heal the grievously injured, it may be the only soothing balm on the wounds of the family that we can offer.
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