I understand that it is horrible when a loved one is injured or killed in an accident, or some other tragedy. But I do not understand exactly when or why it became acceptable to replace that loved one with as much money as we can possibly get our hands on. It is especially amazing to me when those relatives come to the conclusion that Money = Loved One so quickly. The day after the airplane goes down, the relatives are lining up to sue everyone that ever had anything to do with that aircraft.
The same is true of the relatives of those lost on 9/11, or those that were horribly injured in a railroad derailment, or those that had a building collapse on them. It seems to trigger a curious kind of disembodied greed. First the survivors say that nothing can bring back the relative that they lost. Then they sue for the big bucks. Then they spend years in court trying to make themselves as rich as possible. Only the phrase they used first involves significant human decency or reasonable ethics.
Indeed, no amount of money in the world will bring back the dead. Nor will the dollar amount, however many millions that it turns out to be, hurt the entity that may or may not have been at fault. The airline and the railroad will just factor the survivor payments into their prices. The Federal government will just add them to the national debt. The only people punished by these lawsuits are airline passengers and taxpayers.
Sometimes, the loss of life will trigger better safety mechanisms, especially in the case of transportation disasters. In the case of 9/11, an almost airtight case can be made that it triggered a much larger disaster: the ascendancy of George W. Bush. But that is for another day. The point for today is that sometimes the responsible authorities take actions to make us safer after a disaster and other times they do not. Suing them for ever greater sums of money has little or no effect on that process.
All that the lawsuits do is make a few people wealthy and expose those same people as incredibly uncaring and more than willing to tarnish the memory of the deceased with their greed. The memory of the deceased is lost in the ever-increasing desire to get more and more money out of their deaths. It is, in a word, unseemly. In another word, it is depressing.
So what is the answer? If a relative is killed in an airline accident, take the insurance money and spend as much of it as you can helping to make airplane travel safer. That honors the memory of the loved one, rather than tarnishes it. It turns their deaths into positive action. If all you care about is getting rich, sue, and pursue the money with vigor. If what you care about is your loved one, and the rest of the human race, find a way to help fix the problems that killed them.