Monday, July 14, 2014

Accidents and Compensation - Losing the moral issues

I recall seeing a show as a young boy which deeply moved me.  A person had just been acquitted of causing a death in an accident. The accident resulted from a medical problem(blackout?) the car driver had but without being aware of it. However, this person is not able to come to terms with his own role and commits suicide.

This story is refreshed in my mind whenever I read news of accidents and compensation. It seems as if the moral culpability seems to be getting lost in the financial compensation conflict. I doubt if higher compensation causes the drivers to be more cautious - e.g. "people in that car may be very well off so I had better be careful".

The compensation was awarded now for an accident four years ago. So, wouldn't it be better if there was a very fast, unambiguous payment to the victims without any need for courts or tribunals and without having to determine the status and potential worth of the victims in society.

Each individual should have his or her own life/accident insurance  to ensure that his/her family is not financially hurt by an accident, whether in traffic or roof falling down or gas cylinder exploding or ...

There has to be a better way to minimize the number of accidents and ensure that the victims do not suffer or have to fight for their rights.

Interesting perspective about medical malpractice suits in the US. It seems to reflect that the malpractice suits are not a financial burden but rather a significant cost to the society in non-monetary terms.

But medical malpractice is a business driven almost purely by profit through tragedy. Decisions often hinge on the theatrical performance of two competing teams to an audience selected specifically for their lack of knowledge regarding the issue they're judging. There has to be a better way.
A change in the attitude of the doctors may have reduced the malpractice suits. E.g. the following which still holds for India
It seems hard to believe now that there was a time when medicine was such a paternalistic profession that we were never expected to consult with a patient about any treatment plan or procedure (I'm the doctor, you're the patient was the expected answer to any question). It was once considered unethical even to inform a patient of a bad prognosis (we felt it would be detrimental to their health if they knew they were dying).
Who should compensate

From the news report:
The accident occurred because the taxi was being driven at a high speed and the Canter driver suddenly applied brakes in the middle of the road.
 ... Gurdev and Uday Shankar to pay the family a compensation of Rs 1.19 crore, including costs. However, in the interest of justice, the court ordered that Bharti Axa General Insurance Company Limited, the insurer of the Canter, would make the payment of Reena’s share of Rs 60 lakh and then recover it from the two accused.
I would have guessed that the taxi was unambiguously at fault for not keeping a safe distance - no matter what the driver in front does. Canter driver may be fined and penalised if the brake lights were not functioning.

Justice? Wasn't the taxi insured? Isn't it a legal requirement to have 3rd party insurance? Who monitors it?

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