Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Society's other loss compensation mechanisms

The civil liability system for providing compensatory payments to persons who suffer loss or harm is one of several mechanisms that are used in the society to provide protection from losses that societal members experience in their lives.

Other mechanisms include private insurance arrangements, governmental welfare programs and disaster relief, and charitable organizations. None of these are "free lunches" any more than payments made under the civil liability system are free lunches. All payments come out of somebody's pocket. In the case of private insurance, the payments are funded from insurance premiums that people pay to have the insurance. Governmental welfare and disaster relief programs are funded from taxpayer dollars. Benefits provided by charitable organizations come from charitable donations that people make. In each case, this means oversight and monitoring in one form or another of the funds that are the source of payments, consideration of alternative uses of the funds, and decisionmaking in various forms that weighs the choices, costs and benefits.

In the civil liability system, there is equally room for cognizance that no payments are free, consideration that there are possible alternative uses of funds that are sources of payment in the civil liability system, and a weighing of choices, costs and benefits.

Plaintiffs lawyers want none of that, because they want more and bigger payments in their litigation, and considerations of alternative uses of funds, costs, benefits, etc., may result in smaller or fewer payments in litigation.

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