Sometimes people ask, what is the underlying principle behind our system of civil justice in  which we assess monetary damages for injuries that are thrust into someone’s life by the fault  of another?  

Let’s start with what fault means. It means the wrongdoer violated our civil laws that require  people to be careful, not careless, for the good of society and the safety of us all. The concept  of accountability for fault goes way back to the days when we did “eye for an eye justice”.  Theologians will tell you that practice was not about punishment as much as full recognition of  the value of what was taken in the way of health. There was no more profound way to show  respect for the person wrongfully injured and to recognize the real value of what that person  lost than to take the equivalent from the persons who inflicted the injury. That official public  recognition was important for a lot of reasons. It enforced the fundamental principle of  respecting the safety and wellbeing of others. It provided a sense of justice for the person who  was wronged and lost so much. It provided accountability and stability to the community. It  showed justice was not just an ideal, it was real.  

The importance of that fundamental belief in recognizing the full value of what was taken  remains the same today. The only difference is we now administer civil justice in a more  civilized way. The fact we have removed brutality from the process does not make it any less  important to us all.