Scrolling through Facebook and Twitter recently, I came across an article about Paul Walker’s daughter pursuing a case against Porsche, and also a video of Ronnie Pickering, a disgruntled driver-cum-bare-knuckle fighter who verbally abused and threatened a motorcyclist.
You are probably wondering how these two are related. Both of these stories relate to the emotion distress people might experience either when they are involved in a road traffic accident or when someone close to them is involved in such an event.
Paul Walker and Porsche
In the case of Paul Walker, there have been numerous suggestions about the cause of the accident. His daughter has filed a lawsuit in the United States against Porsche, suggesting they did not implement safety features that could have prevented her father’s death. Porsche have countered with a statement suggesting that reckless driving caused the accident.
More generally, however, with cars becoming increasingly sophisticated and the potential for driverless cars on the horizon, at what point could a driver no longer be responsible for the severity of an accident?
Could it be possible that this sort of event will have an impact on the liability aspect of road traffic accident claims? In the future, could we see litigation targeting car manufacturers rather than the driver who allegedly caused the collision? Or is it the case that we need to look closer at how our behaviour could impact our ability as a road user?
The case of Ronnie Pickering mentioned earlier clearly shows how an incident that did not necessarily involve an actual collision or physical injuries may result in harm that is often overlooked, i.e. the distress caused to the other party.
Anxiety and psychological distress are often overlooked yet they may be the most significant injury that people suffer. From my experience representing clients pursuing road traffic accident claims, people who have been injured in the collision find it easier to talk about the physical injuries even if the psychological effects of the accident had a greater impact.
The motor industry is changing, technology is allowing manufacturers to build cars that were not thought possible a decade ago, and this could eventually mean that the person in the driver’s seat will become incidental to how the car is driven.
What will not change, however, is that victims of road traffic accidents will always be people and the law needs to keep up and ensure that their interests are protected. Human beings are not built of the latest carbon fibre; they suffer injuries – both physical and psychological.
Daryna Plysak is a Personal Injury Litigation Executive at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for anyone injured in a road traffic accident through no fault of their own. Call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.