Meron Disaster: Grief can't be replaced by money, compensation can help

In the wake of the Meron disaster, Posner explains why compensation can assist victims with rebuilding their lives.

Yoni Kempinski ,

עו"ד ד"ר אסף פוזנר
עו"ד ד"ר אסף פוזנר
ערוץ 7

In the days after the Meron disaster, grieving victims and families are suffering on many levels.

Attorney Dr. Asaf Posner, in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, spoke about how financial compensation can assist those in need after such a tragedy recover their shattered lives.

Grief can never be replaced by money but compensation can help victims and their families improve their day-to-day existence in the wake of untold suffering, he explained.

"Compensation won't solve the problem of grief, the compensation won't bring back people who were killed in this disaster. The compensation will help in order to replace things that people who were injured won't have," Posner said.

For instance, if someone was seriously injured and unable to work and collect a salary, compensation can greatly help them financially.

Posner also mentioned the expensive cost of psychiatric help and how difficult it is after a tragedy when an individual cannot afford mental health aid for themselves or a loved one. Again, compensation can help in such a case.

"Compensation helps families tremendously," he said.

Posner, who previously worked on behalf of the 290 victims of the Versailles Wedding Hall Collapse, in which he had to battle the state and it took 10 to 15 years to finally see victims getting compensated, said that in similar large disasters, it is always best for the victims to sue as a group.

In the case of the Meron disaster, a "collective" will be stronger than each individual victim, and will also have significantly smaller legal expenses. A class action suit will also mean that the court system won't be burdened with hearing each individual case, with each judge having to defer to the rulings of other judges.

"A collective in this case will be stronger than each one suing on their own behalf."

Posner said that the State will be the primary defendant but that the municipality will also be sued. It's also possible that individuals will be named in the case but with so many killed and injured, it isn't likely they will have the financial means to pay.

In terms of the question of which ministry would have to be sued, he said it isn't a question of which part of the government is responsible from a legal standpoint.

"From the point of view of those who were injured, the State is one state and they'll get the money whoever is responsible," he said.

When asked if the State will likely fight back in any lawsuit, Posner said that it has been his experience – for instance, with the Versailles Wedding Hall disaster – that in legal matters, the defendant, in this case the State, will always fight back with lawyers and legal manoeuvres.

He noted that the Knesset passed a compensation law for the Versailles victims but the State immediately began to fight the law and then gave a smaller amount of compensation that wasn't enough for the victims.

"You can see the state fights back," he said.

He also spoke about the difference between Israeli and oversees victims. If someone, for example, was a Canadian who had come to Israel for Lag B'Omer and was injured in the disaster, they would expect to receive different compensation, based on what a court-appointed expert would judge would be the compensation they were entitled to if a similar accident had occurred to them in Canada. That compensation is usually more money that what an Israeli would get, because in Israel social security and other benefits are deducted from damages, he explained.

On the positive, once the case winds through the legal process, the victims eventually get compensation. It sometimes just takes a while, as in the Versailles case.

Posner said that the importance of compensation cannot be overstated to help out in daily life. He mentioned one of his first cases of a family who had a disabled daughter that they had to care for around the clock. Once he was able to get compensation money for them, they were able to live a more normal existence.

"Those are things that we replace by money. Not the actual grief. No one should expect that the actual grief will be restored by this but it will help and it should help," he said.