Why Is Money Exchanged for Personal Injuries?

Do you think it is odd that the way we resolve personal injury and wrongful death claims is to exchange money for injuries suffered in accidents? However, it should not be that unusual. There are some things we cannot do as a result of an accident causing personal injuries or the death of a loved one. We cannot go back in time and alter the outcome of the accident. We cannot eliminate the pain, suffering, injuries or death. We are unable to restore time lost in recovery or hospitalization. Finally, we are not able to return a person to work before a proper recovery.

In criminal prosecutions, the person who committed a crime, if convicted, is punished for his/her actions. The courts may require a criminal to pay "restoration" for some of the damages caused by the individual.

In a civil action for personal injuries, this is an action between individuals and/or an individual and entity. There is no punishment by the government involved in a personal injury action, only financial compensation for losses. The objective is to compensate the individual for all detriment caused by the negligence or intentional acts of another. To compensate, or equalize, a person for his/her losses, the civil courts measure the losses in terms of money. The only means and methods society has to "equalize" the losses suffered by an individual for injuries is to order the transfer of money from the person who caused an injury to the injured person.

Compensation is measured for "economic" damages and "non-economic" damages. "Economic" damages are items measured in such things as medical expenses, future medical care, losses of past and future earnings, property damage, and other similar items. "Non-economic" damages are items which are not easily calculable. These things include, temporary or permanent disabilities pain, suffering, grief, anxiety, loss of relationships, disfigurement and similar items.

The exchange of money for personal injury losses, actually makes sense. While it is not a great way to deal with these losses, there is really no other means by which society can compensate someone for such losses.