What to do when our laws can’t keep up with our innovation

A 63-year old Vietnam veteran who was rendered completely disabled during service to his country was able to travel again because of a custom-made mobile-assistive device. But in October 2009, as he traveled from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, the 450-pound device was damaged in the cargo hold of the plane. As a result, the vet was bedridden for more than nine months. The airline accepted responsibility for the damage but offered a tiny settlement — just to repair the device. It argued argued that his device was like an automobile or a wheelchair, so the airline’s only liability was to repair the device.