Personal injury cases are typically valued–by insurance adjusters, personal injury attorneys and juries–based on medical expenses. Oftentimes lost wages and, to a greater extent, opportunity cost, take a back seat. Should people who get hurt in accidents be compensated for the opportunities they miss because of someone else’s negligence?
On Monday, Brian Ebersole, former state legislator, Tacoma mayor and Bates Technical College president, was seriously injured in a car accident. Ebersole apparently made a U-turn after existing westbound Highway 16 in an attempt to re-enter the highway and drove in to the path of a pickup truck. Ebersole was transported to St. Joseph Medical Center with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
In this case we have a former Mayor of Tacoma. He remains a mover and shaker. His time is obviously worth a great deal even though he’s not necessarily getting paid in connection with his philanthropic ventures. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that he wasn’t making a U-Turn and that the accident was the other driver’s fault. Shouldn’t someone in Mr. Ebersole’s position be compensated for that lost time? For his opportunity cost? For what he could have been doing instead of recovering in the hospital?