Responsibility and the Free Market

Albert Einstein once said that the world is a dangerous place because people do not do anything about it.  We, as children learned something from our mothers that is as true today as it was when she said it.  If you make a mess, you are responsible to clean it up.  You are responsible to clean it up fully.  We, as trial lawyers know that this means if you harm someone through your negligence, you are responsible for making up for that harm by fairly compensating the person you hurt.  This rule has two good effects.  The first is that the person who is harmed is taken care of by the person who hurt them.  The responsibility for this harm, and taking care of it, is not shifted to Medicare to pay the bills and Social Security to pay for the lost wages.  We as a society do not have to make up for the harm because the responsible party is doing that.  Second, it causes people to be more careful, so that they do not hurt people and do not have to make up for the harm they cause.  As social animals it is our goal to live a happy and fulfilling life.  If no one injures us, we can do that.  If we do not injure another, everyone is free to do that.  This is not a concept of socialism or communism, it is a pillar of the free market society.  Capitalism is best served by happy healthy workers contributing to their own welfare and pursuit of the dream of living the better life.

So, we ask you, why would a system that promotes these values be under constant attack?  Why are our legislatures so intent on stripping the people of the protections offered by the tort system?  A logical response is that our legislative bodies are controlled by the moneyed interests.  Lobbyists, corporations with huge amounts of money,influence lawmakers to do their bidding. Why would corporations spend money to attack the tort system?  Said another way, why would corporations spend money to restrict your right to be fairly compensated if you are injured by another’s negligence? Behind every car accident there are two insurance companies, one for each car.  One of those companies now has the legal obligation to pay the injured party to make up the harm caused by their insured.  Every dollar the insurance company pays out in fair compensation is one less dollar of profit.  The profits for these companies are huge.  These huge profits justify the obscene amount of money these companies spend to influence lawmakers to restrict your rights and as a consequence increase their profits.  Remember, the good hands people, despite their warm and fuzzy commercials, are a for profit corporation and if they do not have to compensate you fairly they make more money.  Said another way, if they do not have to compensate the bread winner who can no longer work, you and I will have to take care of the injured person through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

You might say it can’t be that bad, but it can be.  Our world will become a more dangerous place unless we the people stand up and tell our lawmakers that what our mothers taught is is right and we are not going to let it go.  We have the right to be fairly compensated if we are hurt.  It is a matter of honor to make up for the harm we cause.  Corporate self interest cannot warp mother’s words.

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