Automobile Industry Bailout
In Chicago, personal injury law is about holding responsible any negligent parties, to prevent innocent parties from unnecessarily bearing the weight of consequences. Many aspects of personal injury law, common in today’s courtrooms, including wrongful death, motor vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, are examples of civil justice laws addressing unlawful and illegal negligence – inaction – rather than intentional acts.
Also addressing negligence and inaction, though on a much larger scale, is the government-funded bailout currently being considered by Congress. Many have criticized these companies as extremely negligent of their responsibilities: to those they employ, to investors and stockholders, and, in effect, to any with a vested interest. Through poor planning and decision-making in overall business strategy, these companies, say some, have shirked their duty. Also alleged, is that, for these companies, the very knowledge or potential of a bailout plan in dire circumstances (as these are) has for some time undercut automobile officials’ drive (no pun intended) to innovate and move intelligently with the market. If there is truth to these arguments, even partial truth, what else can we call this but negligent behavior?
To further the Chicago personal injury law comparison, should these companies be guilty of such negligence, can we then give them finances to – maybe or maybe not – head off disaster? Consider a defendant in a personal injury case admitting frivolously wasting the money of the plaintiff. Can we conceive of a court ruling in such a case for the plaintiff to “bail out” the negligent defendant? No, we cannot. Personal injury law is built the social duties between individuals, and on the idea that upon the violation of such a duty, it is the violator, not the violated, bearing the responsibility to compensate the victim and rectify the situation. These standards are necessary to shifts the consequences of bad behavior from the innocent to the guilty.
Let us return to the present, national bailout situation. In considering guilt and innocence and the placement of consequence, is not the innocent automobile manufacturer employee already suffering the consequences and standing to lose everything if the bailout is not approved? Is it possible to hold responsible for the small portion (executives) of decision-makers within these companies while helping the rest? In civil, personal injury law, there do exist some devices for doing comparable things – contributory negligence, for example – but perhaps we must admit that this is the end of our metaphor. As it breaks down, we are left with no choice except to leave these decisions to those who were elected to make them.
When you or someone you love is the victim of negligence, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
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