People sue for different reasons, and usually for a combination of reasons. When accident victims hire me to file a New York personal injury lawsuit, they often seem apologetic for having to sue, explaining to me, “I’m not the suing type, but . . .”.
Usually their voice turns a little angry after the “but”, as they explain the reason they must sue. Often it is because the person or company that injured them didn’t seem to give a damn about their safety or did not even apologize. They want to make them pay for their wrong.
Very, very often people sue because they have no choice; they can’t work and can’t pay the medical bills, and they need to sue just to stay afloat.
Sometimes, though, personal injury victims voice a different reason for suing. They say something like, “if I don’t sue them, they will keep on doing this, and others will be injured, too. I don’t want anyone else to have to go what I am going through”. I call this the “social conscience lawsuit”. This is a noble reason to sue. It is selfless. It is about social justice and the public good.
Suing people and companies who carelessly cause injuries helps reduce injury-producing behavior. Such lawsuits prevent future injuries by “teaching a lesson”, not only to the careless or heartless defendant, but also to other people and companies who want to avoid getting sued. Those people and companies are likely to “mend their ways” if they feel the sting of a lawsuit, or see others who act like them getting sued.
Which brings me to the subject that prompted this blog post: A “social conscience” New York wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed by the mother of a dead 19-year-old sophomore fraternity “pledge” of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Cornell University. He was “kidnapped” by his would-be “brothers”, then tied up, blindfolded, and made to answer trivia questions about his fraternity. Wrong answers were punished with, among other things, forced vodka drinking. Eventually he passed out and died of alcohol poisoning.
This was not the first time. Since 1997, this same national fraternity churned out 5 similar deaths.
So the boy’s grieving mother sued the fraternity. Why? I love this quote from her: “With the death of my son, I find some comfort in knowing that this lawsuit may bring about changes in fraternities that will prevent other families from suffering as I have.”
Yes, personal injury lawsuits help make the world a safer place. And so do brave litigants such as this grieving mother. Courage — and good luck — mom.
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels Bersani Kalabanka