중앙데일리

Lessons from $30 Million

Mar 20,2000
It was somewhat surprising that the United States government admitted their fault in a Guam airport accident in August, 1997. This is because the compensation amount will be astonishing. Settlement size increases as the number of fatalities and injured increases, and with more than one hundred people injured or killed, the compensation for this accident will be huge.
One Korean civil officer expressed his respect for the ability of the United States to reach such a decision, and the working conditions which would allow it. Despite this he questions if the United States Government has the capacity to compensate private claims without the approval of some agency within the government.
What made America compensate the families? I believe that this is what the United States government intends. With the lawsuit over the accident delayed, it will cost more money and create more antipathy in the remaining families, and so America will take one step back, and settle quickly, in order to save money in the end. This evidently seems to be a high-level policy.
There is another case where the American government cleverly saved money. In the late 1980s, 29 percent of suits against the government were related to serious traffic accidents due to inadequate safety equipment installation. The government lost 41 percent of the cases.
Ten years later, the compensation amount increased 19 times, and then the US government made a sharp increase in investments in safety equipment set-up and requested that each state should concentrate on the prevention of accidents.
Recently, an avalanch of critisicm over transportation safety was raised by drivers, as safety facilities are not where they are needed, but are installed where uncessary. Therefore, even though the safety facilities are set up, they do not function well, due to lack of maintenance and location. Concerning the criticism, the government has blamed a small budget.
What about making a lawsuit against the government? When an accident happens, we generally try to get insurance money for the settlement. However, we should rather confront the government, which neglected in its duty to safety. This will lead to the repair, improvement, and installation of needed safety facilities.




by Eum Sung-jik




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