When I was 15, I had my first experience with the American Tort System. I was in a car accident. I knew at that moment that I wanted to dedicate my life to the pursuit of civil justice for those wronged by the actions of another as a civil tort lawyer.
The word tort comes from the French word for “injury” or “wrong.” For centuries, civilizations have struggled to create the best system for civil justice. In ancient times, civil law required “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” In other words, if your actions caused another person to lose their leg, then the authorities would cut off your leg too. Luckily, the courts no longer apply this concept. Today, justice in the American Tort System is given in the form of money damages.
No system is perfect. Nothing will bring back the lost family member, restore the paraplegic’s ability to walk after a bad car accident, or take away a parent’s emotional pain of seeing their child suffer, but in the United States, the civil justice system aims to provide justice and compensation for individuals in their time of greatest need by awarding money damages.
Damages come in two distinctly different types. First, damages can be used to compensate a person for their loss – these are called compensatory damages. Second, damages can also be used to punish and deter those individuals who have a complete disregard for the consequences of their actions. These damages are called punitive damages. Although rare, a court can award punitive damages when the responsible party’s actions are intentional or wantonness.
Given the nature of the America Tort System, the insurance system naturally developed in response. Insurance allows individuals and companies to minimize their risk by pooling themselves with others. Understand that when settling a case for their insured, the insurance company may not have the injured party’s best interests at heart. Instead, the insurance company could be looking to pay the least amount possible. Generally, a person only receives all the compensation he or she deserves through an effective attorney who knows the value of the case and the appropriate strategies for negotiation with the insurance company.
In our firm, we have dedicated our practice to helping those individuals get the compensation they deserve from the American Tort System. Juries have given our clients record verdicts of both compensatory and punitive damages. Since the day I was in my accident, nothing has given me greater personal satisfaction than getting a client a great settlement or jury verdict. I know that I am making that client’s life a little better by helping them cope during the most difficult time of their life.
DISCLAIMER: The above article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be considered, legal advice. Legal advice can only be given by a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction following a individualized consultation. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact an attorney in your area.