On Tuesday, April 25th, I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle. The driver wasn’t paying attention, looking down, putting on her seatbelt while accelerating through a parking lot. I was on the sidewalk going against the flow of traffic; she hit me head on at an angle, catapulting me and my bike 10-15 feet through the air perpendicular to my direction of travel. Thankfully, I had on a good helmet; otherwise, I’d likely not be writing this today, or anything else.
I managed to come out of it with only a broken left wrist and significant bodily bruising; I have a new titanium plate screwed permanently into my wrist, but no other lasting damage, best I can tell. Looking back on it, this seems a bit miraculous in itself.
Thankfully, the driver was extremely distraught and profusely apologetic, staying with me and calling the ambulance. She took full responsibility and has been praying for my recovery. She has good insurance to help pay for the surgery, care and post-trauma recovery, additional financial loss, as well as pain and suffering. But now comes the ethics of collecting; what to ask for, how much, and how to go about it. This PIP industry is notoriously corrupt, reeking with greed and vice.
Yet Torah does lay out a sensible protocol for handling personal injury; it’s part of the Law of Love: the offending party helps the victim fully recover and also compensates for loss of time. (Ex 21:18-19) This evidently covers at least medical bills, earnings loss and related expenses. But how do we compensate for pain and suffering? Is this even in scope in the biblical protocol?
We ask how the event changed the victim’s quality of life by estimating the payoff the victim would have accepted to voluntarily suffer this loss. What monetary compensation would I have accepted in exchange for the use of my left arm for 4 months? I work out 5-6 times a week, and I type for a living. What’s that worth, in addition to all the other day-to-day activities for which I need both hands?
And even if arrive at such a sum, how do I collect it? Is it worth ruining another family financially? When I myself could easily have been the offender? When the other person actually appears to be more distraught about having caused the accident than I myself ever was going through it?
A brief study shows us two obvious things:  people carry insurance to protect themselves and others in just such circumstances, and  insurance companies generally pay only what they’re forced to. Unless we have the legal expertise and plenty of free time, we’re going to settle for less than we’re entitled, both legally and scripturally. Enter the Personal Injury Attorney: they’re trained to use legal means to ensure insurance companies pay what they should.
Putting myself in the shoes of the offender, would I mind if the victim hired an ethical PIA to get my insurance to pay a sum considered reasonable for pain and suffering? No. Would I mind if the victim hired a ruthless PIA to come after me for all they could possibly get? For sure. This then is the law of love, best I can sort it out for now.