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Tristan Hallam: A lack of obvious empathy

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

I was stuck in a traffic jam on the fringes of Central London recently. I am always reluctant to waste too much time in traffic jams although try as I might to find a way around, I was stuck in the same jam for a good while.What struck me as I was inching forward passing many junctions, was how people were not just forcing themselves into gaps which is to be expected, but driving down the wrong side of the road in some cases trying to get into spaces which appeared non existent with a complete disregard for anyone else.It is this lack of empathy that always strikes me as utterly bizarre.It is very much a human nature. I therefore suppose it is in us all to some extent. However where our own self worth is considered by us to be greater than the worth of our fellow human man, this is not in my opinion an attractive trait.  This is of course considered by some to be arrogant. It is not just arrogant in my view. It is simply a case of ‘I am better than you and I therefore have no regard for your position in this world or indeed your worth’.  It is this lack of empathy that one of the American lawyers spotted in the Nuremberg trials. What this lawyer found as he viewed the evidence and responses from the Nazi war criminals was a complete lack of empathy for what they had done and what had been going on with their approval. This was despite being shown footage of masses of dead and dying people in concentration camps. Having empathy is not for one moment in my view a weakness. Instead it is a strength which works not only for the benefit of our fellow human beings but also for the benefit of ourselves. What you might say has this to do with personal injury law.  It is or has everything to do with personal injury law. The law that we have, be it common law based on cases decided by Judges or indeed statute, Acts and Regulations, is based upon the principal of empathy. If this is taken away and if we continue to live in what some see as a society increasingly where this is seen as a weakness rather than a strength, we will in my view suffer in the long run.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker.If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.