Is It Moral Or Ethical To Award Large Dollar Jury Verdicts?
Whenever there is a very large jury verdict for an accident victim, the news media seems to not only report on it, but also seems to make it sound like something bad, unethical, or outrageous happened. We are inundated with news reports of million dollar verdicts, making it seem like juries are just handing out millions to anybody, for anything that happens.
But is it even ethical or moral to give out that much money to an accident victim? It isn’t a strange question—in jury selection , many attorneys even ask questions like this to potential jurors, to see if they have some bias against giving out large verdicts, if the evidence showed that it was warranted.
Payback for Money and Expenses Lost
The first thing to remember is that many of these million dollar verdicts are compensation for people who have lost money, or who owe money, as a result of medical expenses or lost wages related to an accident.
Paying someone back for what they have lost or had to spend because of the accident, which was not their fault, is not unethical—in fact, many people would say, it’s the opposite.
The expenses can add up. Many injuries that victims suffer will lead to a lifetime of medical needs. Paralysis, for example, will carry a lifetime of medical devices, medical attention, infections, necessary physical therapy, or long term nursing home care. Multiply those expenses by the number of years the victim may have on his or her life expectancy, and it can get into the millions just for these expenses.
This isn’t unethical. It’s fair. Someone will have a financial loss or have medical needs they wouldn’t have had if the accident didn’t happen, and they shouldn’t have to bear this financial obligation themselves.
Pain and Suffering
Many make a big deal about millions of dollars for pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, or loss of the quality of life.
But if you ask most accident victims whether they would rather have a large dollar verdict, or they would rather be healthy, as if the accident never happened, they would take the latter.
Of course, we can’t reverse time and make the accident happen, and thus, their injuries go away like they never happened.
So the only thing we can do is try to make their lives easier, and take some of the emotional and mental load of life off of them, so they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, so they can always know their rent or mortgage is paid every month, so they can enjoy their lives as much as possible, with as little worry as possible.
It’s a way of making someone’s life better; a life that was made less enjoyable or full, not by anything they did, but what was done to them by someone else. What could be more ethical, moral, and right, than that?