Is Getting Money Really Justice When Someone Gets Hurt?

Remember Humpty Dumpty? They could never put him back together again. No matter how hard the King’s horses and King’s men tried, Humpty was never the same again. While this nursery rhyme is a warning to be careful, it also illustrates a point that sometimes we get injured so badly, we’re never the same again physcially, psychologically, or emotionally.

In real life, what happens when you’re injured so badly you’re never the same? You lose an arm or your eyesight. You have lower back pain all day every day. You wake up once a week with numbness in your left leg. The aim of the law around these problems is to, “make the person whole again.” Just like in Humpty Dumpty’s case, the law would put him back together again if it could.

How does the law do this? We use every bit of medical science available to us to fix the person. Everything from conservative physical therapy and chiropracitc adjustments to surgeries. The problem is medicine hasn’t figured out how to fully heal every injury known to man. Medical schience can’t give you a new arm, eyeballs or, sometimes, fully take away that back pain.

So how can we get justice when the person lost an arm? Justice would be to make the person like they were prior to the injury. “Make them whole.”For better or worse, the closest thing the law can get for the injured person is money.

Why money? Because money can make the injured person’s “new normal” more tolerable. Money buys medical treatment. Money replaces lost income for work missed. Money buys a new state-of-the-art prosthetic arm. Does money replace the arm? Of course not, but it’s better than not having any arm. Money buys chiropractic treatment to keep that low back pain at bay or reduces the numbness in the leg to times your awake instead of asleep.

This is the justice that the civil courts can give. The idea is that since we’re unable to make the person whole, we can give them money in order for them to pay for things to make their new normal easier.

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