You’ve asked a question that could be rather subjective. If you are asking whether it is morally right to file a lawsuit, then you should be asking yourself a whole series of follow-up questions to see if it is “right.” If you are asking whether you should file a lawsuit or take some other action, like negotiate your claim, then there is another set of questions and considerations you should look at. I’ll discuss the latter question in a different post. For now, let’s dig into the first one:
Is it “right”? You may be hesitant to file a lawsuit or pursue a personal injury claim because you have been told that personal injury claims are morally “wrong,” that such people should just “suck it up” and deal with their misfortunes, or that people who file claims are just “whiners.” I’ve heard from people who are embarrassed to call a lawyer or concerned because they feel suing contradicts their personal beliefs or moral views. If you have felt this way, you are certainly not alone– but please be assured that you have every right to– and should– protect yourself and your family. Let’s put it into perspective so that perhaps it makes more sense.
Example: Let’s say that you have been injured in a car accident. Your injuries are moderate to severe (broken bones) and have a good chance of full recovery. You were not at fault in the car accident, you have car insurance and health insurance that will cover the expense of your injuries and time lost at work. Would it be right for you to pursue the at-fault driver for recovery of your injuries?
Let’s look at it from the other direction: What would happen if you do nothing? There are likely a few things that you should expect as a result of your accident: your health and car insurance will likely go up regardless of whether you make a claim against the other driver. Also, your car insurance will likely file a ‘subrogation’ claim in your name (they have this right whether you like it or not) to obtain reimbursement of the amounts the paid for your injuries. Finally, there are uncertain risks that you are assuming if you do not make a claim such as general damages that are hard to put a dollar figure on. What if the doctor is wrong and you do not make a full recovery but have permanent injuries? Expenses that are easy to quantify are things like vehicle repair costs, medical bills, and lost wages. Things that can be hard to quantify are things like the pain you went through when you were injured, the on-going pain of rehabilitation, and the long-term mental toll from having been injured. Your insurance may cover the easy stuff but the other damages most often get disregarded.
So, back to the question: is it right to sue for your injuries? I hope you understand that if you do not make a claim, you are assuming losses that you did not cause and that you are imprudently allowing others to shirk their responsibility to fix what they break. Public policy in Utah is that people are responsible for their own actions. This encourages responsible drivers, responsible citizens, and responsible neighbors. Failure to hold others responsible for their conduct encourages irresponsibility, lawlessness, and risky behavior. We hold people responsible by enforcing our rights– especially when we’ve been injured. We maintain a well-maintained and safe community by requiring that we all take responsibility for our actions and, if necessary, forcing others to take responsibility for their actions.
Another example: Assume the above scenario except that the accident happened to your teenage daughter and the injuries will be permanent and irreparable. Would that change your answer to whether it is right or not? Should your innocent daughter be subjected to a lifetime of injury, frustration, and pain without some compensation? Would it be right to NOT sue? What would your loved-ones think about you not suing? Wouldn’t you be doing them a disservice by failing to consider the adverse effects that your injury has had on their lives? This perhaps gets to the heart of the question: while you may have a personal repugnance to filing a lawsuit, you have a responsibility to those over whom you have (or may in the future have) stewardship to protect them and their interests. Sometimes it’s not all about you. Sometimes you do it for those you love despite your personal feelings.
A few thoughts related to insurance: Insurance is there for a reason. Our Utah Legislature requires every driver to have insurance. Prudent businesses have insurance on their property or machines. The State of Utah has insurance to cover its conduct. Professionals such as attorneys, doctors, and accountants have insurance to cover their conduct. This is not because we are all negligent but simply because life happens. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. In moments of distraction, people make mistakes. Insurance is how we protect ourselves from the consequences of our mistakes. As a result, it is expected that when we cause harm to others, others may look to us to do what we can to make it right. That means making a claim and, if necessary, filing a lawsuit. Is it right? Maybe the better question is: “is it right for you to not pursue a claim?”
Call Me. The above discussion is important for your well-being. You likely have more questions than this post or the other information on this website can provide. Every situation is unique. If you have been injured or are the heir of someone killed in an accident, feel free to reach out to me to discuss your circumstances. You cannot make a good decision if you do not get competent advice from a qualified, experienced attorney. You need to protect yourself and your loved-ones from the often devastating effects of permanent injury or death. You do this by pursuing what you are entitled to. Call me, message me, or contact me.