By Manuel Bauche
According to the John Lewis Institute for Social Justice, “social justice” is “a communal effort dedicated to creating and sustaining a fair and equal society in which each person and all groups are valued and affirmed.” Further, it seeks to end “all systems that devalue the dignity and humanity of any person.”
Given that social justice is an effort at the community level, how are personal injury lawyers advancing it? In order to understand that, first let’s explore a sampling of contexts in which certain persons are devalued, thereby creating the need for social justice advocacy.
In workplaces across the country, companies may engage in racist hiring, retention, compensation, and termination practices. Other unfair practices may include, for example, not providing proper safety equipment to a subgroup of workers, rendering them more likely than their colleagues to suffer serious injury from workplace accidents. Personal injury lawyers advance social justice when they fight on the behalf of these injured workers and ensure workplace safety is prioritized over company profit.
Disability rights are social justice rights. In other words, those in the disability community are included in the group of marginalized people who seek a fairer and more equitable society. There are various circumstances where a personal injury lawyer can help fight for disability rights. For instance, let’s say a company fails to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA mandates that public accommodations (whether owned by the government, a non-profit organization, or a private company) must meet certain minimum standards for accessibility. Failure to meet these guidelines can cause people in the disabled community serious injury. A personal injury attorney can sue the company on behalf of the injured person.
Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code provides an individual the right to sue state government employees and others for civil rights violations. Prisoners can use Section 1983, for example, to sue the prison for inhabitable living conditions, faulty healthcare, or the failure of a security guard to protect a prisoner during an assault. Other possible claims against a prison include false arrest, wrongful conviction, false imprisonment, abuse of process, and the use of excessive force. A personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit against the prison and other government entities for the personal injuries they caused to the client.
As may be obvious, in many examples of social justice violations, there’s a corporate greed that seems to be valued over human safety. Often, injuries happen to people because the company is more concerned with their bottom line than the health, wellbeing, and safety of others.
Personal injury lawyers can help drive societal and systemic change by holding profit-hungry corporations, companies, agencies, and organizations accountable for their actions and inactions. And, notably, change happening at the court level operates at lightning-fast pace compared to change happening at the congressional or legislative levels.
To fight inequality and further social justice, hire the personal injury lawyers and social justice advocates at VSCP Law.
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