Jury Duty-Making Roads Safer

Recently in the Seattle Times there was an editorial titled Making Seattle roads safe for all. The editorial states about 26 people die each year in Seattle from traffic injuries. Thousands more are injured each year in automobile collisions.

The editorial reasons a combination of factors are involved in collisions that result in injury: impairment, speed, distraction, inattention, following too closely, and failure to yield to name a few. As pointed out in the editorial “these are not accidents.”  These are injury collisions that could have and should have been prevented.

The editorial says what is needed to make our roads safer is to adhere to the “E’s of traffic safety-education, enforcement, environment, and empathy-because it will take a multifaceted approach to fix our roads… .”  When we apply these “E’s” to the civil justice system we see juries have a role in making our roads safer.

Education. When a collision is caused by the negligence of another driver our civil justice system provides for damages to the injured driver. When fair damages are awarded by the  jury the negligent driver is educated on the reality his negligence will result in paying compensation to the injured party. This also has the effect of educating society beyond the parties in the lawsuit. When a jury speaks society listens, and the message when compensation is awarded to the injured driver is negligence has a consequence.

Enforcement. When a negligent driver causes injury to another he generally receives a traffic citation. Usually a relatively small fine is paid- small in relation  to what has been done to the injured driver. When the negligent driver fails to account for his negligence he often ends up in a civil trial. When a jury provides fair compensation for the injured driver we have a higher level of enforcement. We have enforcement where the amount of damages paid by the negligent driver directly relates to the damage he caused.

Environment. In some cases the injury is caused by unsafe road conditions that the city, county, or state could have and should have made safe. When negligence is proved against the government, and fair damages are awarded, the government is held accountable for negligently allowing an unsafe environment. This in turn causes the government to be more diligent in ensuring a safe environment, because to not do so will result in a financial consequence.

Empathy. In our civil justice system this means caring for the parties in the case. When the plaintiff has been left with injuries through no fault of his own the caring thing to do is provide him with fair compensation. This is what the law provides, and in this way the law has empathy. Jurors are the caring arm of the law in a negligence case.

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One Response to “Jury Duty-Making Roads Safer”

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