North Carolina Truck Accident Claims: Is True Total Compensation Possible?

June 21, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Discussions on the blogosphere about North Carolina truck accidents often focus on things like news events of the day, analyses of said events, and “how to avoid” type articles thrown in there as well. But very few of these reports – in the blogosphere and mainstream media alike – probe the deeper philosophical implications of accident and injury law. And this is a shame because we who write and follow blogs pertaining to North Carolina car, truck, and bus accident law are under-serving our readership by neglecting critical questions.

One of the big questions is: “can true compensation even be possible?” In other words… say a trucker rear-ended your Hyundai at a stop sign near your local Winn-Dixie. You suffered serious whiplash, property damage, and headaches for days. You endured therapy, chiropractic care, and maybe even psychotherapy to manage the post-traumatic stress symptoms generated by the sudden and scary crash. A sympathetic court might look at what happened to you and award you a monetary amount designed to compensate you not only for specific costs that you incurred (such as chiropractic bills and psychotherapy bills) but also for intangibles like “pain and suffering.”

But is money really enough? Is it adequate? Is there a different kind of compensation that might be more appropriate?

These are key philosophical questions, and many in the legal community either don’t acknowledge them or don’t address them to the satisfaction of potential plaintiffs.

Obviously, no one can go back in time and “undo” the accident. And even the best North Carolina truck accident law firm out there cannot tabulate and account for the counterfactual costs to you – for instance, the opportunities you’ve missed as a result of being injured. There simply is no way to quantify the loss of happiness, opportunity, or potential opportunity.

Likewise, as an advocate for defendants might argue, there is no way to quantify the positive aspects of the post-accident experience that victims enjoy. For instance, in our theoretical example, a person who gets good chiropractic care after the accident may enjoy a lifetime of improved awareness of her musculoskeletal problems. And this awareness might pay dividends in the form of helping her recognize and prevent osteoarthritis in her knee 30 years hence.

So obviously human beings are going to be ultimately limited in terms of how they can calculate the costs and benefits of actions and inactions before, during, and after an accident. But would a God-like objective entity be able to identify “true compensation” more accurately?

If we could see not only all of the actual costs of an accident but also all of the “counterfactual” costs (what would might have happened to the person had the accident never occurred), could we then arrive at a figure for true compensation?

Perhaps not. As Physicist Steven Wolfram discusses in his book, A New Kind of Science, there are actually ultimate limitations to what can be known and can be predicted, even with the most sophisticated computational systems theoretically possible.

More Web Resources:

A New Kind of Science

Counterfactual Costs


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