Many Christians struggle with the thought of personal injury claims and law suits. Some even question the notion of taking legal action for any circumstance or issue, no matter how serious. Others believe that legal actions are appropriate to right a wrong. Both sides have merit and both give reason for concern. This post will address some of those. And while it may not address every fear you have about taking legal action, it will give you some basis to make a decision about whether making a claim for personal injuries is right for you.
People who oppose legal action, usually refer to Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, where he questions litigation. 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. For sure, Paul was concerned about litigation but he certainly was not addressing all litigation. This section of the letter was addressed to believers, members of the same church family. Paul was encouraging members in the same church to resolve their differences among themselves before going to court.
This makes good sense. In nearly every case Dixon Law Office handles, we make an effort to resolve the case without filing a law suit. We attempt to settle often multiple times before we ever come to a courthouse.
Sometimes settling the claim is not possible. Sometimes the other side just refuses to do what is right. What is someone to do then?
Certainly it is possible to do nothing at all. Jesus himself discussed "turning the other cheek" to injustice and wrong treatment. Matthew 5:39. Particularly with small claims, minor interferences or for people whose resources will not be taxed with the harm, this is a viable option.
In cases of serious harm, catastrophic loss, or even death of a loved one, walking away from the claim will leave the person and their family destitute. It can alter someone's life forever. It can even result in making that person a burden on others or the state. When someone has committed a wrong, should they not be held responsible?
Paul himself often used the court system to achieve just ends. He obtained authority for the stoning of Stephen with the court action. Acts 7:54-58; Acts 8:1. He used legal action to persecute Jesus. Acts 9:5. In Acts 16:37-40, the converted Paul was beaten and imprisoned without a trial. He used his rights as a Roman citizen to end his imprisonment. Again in Acts 22:25 Paul uses his Roman citizenship to stop illegal punishment. In Acts 18:12-17, Paul's charge was dropped because his actions were not a crime and so no legal action was needed. Matthew 18:15-17 describes litigation at length. It is clear that not all litigation is wrong or contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
IS ALL LITIGATION WRONG?
No. While Jesus forgave many people their sins, there can be little doubt that he held people accountable for their actions. He let the rich young ruler walk away when he refused to follow the way of Jesus. Mark 10:21. Jesus told his followers not to throw pearls to pigs or give dogs the sacred (Matthew 7:6) meaning that there is a balance. By this, Jesus meant that there is a balance between grace and punishment. Indeed, there are times when people do not get the pearls or the sacred things because they are acting badly. Repeatedly, Jesus told the Pharisees that their actions were wrong and that they would be held accountable. See Matthew 23 and Luke 11:37:53 for some examples. He drove out the moneychangers when they were selling their wares in the temple. Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15. Jesus instructed his disciples to "shake the dust off your feet" when they were not welcomed, a symbolic curse to the host. Matthew 10:14. He even cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit. Mark 11:12-14. Clearly, even Jesus himself showed there were limits to grace on earth.
What a considered review of these and many other scriptures reveals is that grace and justice must live in balance. There are times where extending grace is critically important. However, there are times in which one must stop extending grace and justice must be enforced. This is the principle by which thoughtful Christians have practiced for millennia. This is the practice by which we at Dixon Law Office follow every day.
WHEN SHOULD A CHRISTIAN CONSIDER LITIGATION?
When considering a law suit or claim for personal injuries or death of a loved one, Christians should consider several factors.
- Look at the wrong. The first question should be the nature of the injury. What was the wrong that was committed? Was it a serious error or a minor mistake? Simple errors (without serious harms) are often worthy of overlooking.
- Look at the harm caused. The harm caused by any wrong must be serious for litigation to be considered by a Christian. Has the wrong caused significant medical bills? Has the victim or the family lost income? The more serious the loss, the more appropriate it is to consider litigation.
- Who committed the wrong? The wrong must have been committed by someone else. That wrong might be by a person. It might have been caused by a group. A corporation might be at fault. However, the discussion only begins when there is a wrong committed.
- Could this claim stop future loss? While the injury caused to one person or family is devastating, if the person or company still has the opportunity to commit the wrong again, litigation is often strongly encouraged. Often, litigation can spurn changes to behavior that can prevent future losses.
SEEK WISE COUNSEL
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed because of the fault of another, you need to seek wise counsel (see Proverbs 12:15). At Dixon Law Office, we have decades of experience representing injured victims. And we do it from a Christian perspective of grace and justice. Call Dixon Law Office today and let us review your case. We will give you the wise counsel you deserve. Call 888-354-9880 or click here now.