In public opinion, trials can often be just time wasters—spending money and clogging the court system with frivolous lawsuits. This is a common misconception. Many believe survivors are only looking for money. However, good trials with real fights set out to change the status quo. They force negligent individuals and powerful companies to go above and beyond to obey the law. They force those that were once negligent or reckless in their actions to change their ways to better the future for others.
Consider the Big Tobacco Trial
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement began in November 1998 after the states’ settled the lawsuits against the four largest United States tobacco companies and the industry for recovery of costs associated with tobacco-related healthcare.
This settlement made an impact in numerous ways. First, the participating tobacco manufacturers (Philip Morris Inc., Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, and R.J. Reynolds) agreed to settle with a minimum payment of $206 billion covering the first 25 years following the agreement (there are still 5 years left).
The second impact it had was the agreement to change the way tobacco was marketed.
Trial Results Set Precedents for Future Cases
Even the smallest trial can change the future. This is true in determining how certain companies and individuals operate. When forced to take responsibility for negligent or reckless actions, large companies or individuals must change to protect individuals in the future.
This means that individuals should not have to fear similar consequences in the future.
For instance, if a company is found liable for making a dangerous product, they may be hurt by the amount lost in a judgment to an injured individual. However, it is often the public view of the negligence that is more harmful to the company because it shows individuals the dangers these companies present.
Trials force these companies to take responsibility and make changes to ensure safety. Trials force negligent individuals to be diligent before they act. Trials are important because they do more than help the injury victim obtain compensation. They obtain justice. They give people peace of mind and the satisfaction of knowing that what happened to them is just a little less likely to happen to someone else.