Whenever I read of a case such as that of Kylie Grimes, who was left tetraplegic after diving into a swimming pool, I usually have two reactions.
The first reaction is a humane feeling of empathy: we all do stupid things, and there by the grace of sheer luck go any of us. Just imagine if the stupid things we have done meant we all had ended up with severe disability.
The second reaction is anger.
The anger is for the smug sorts who always scoff at the claimant for bringing such a case at all. The knowing ones who say that "of course it is the claimant's own fault" and "they only have themselves to blame".
This response show a lack of understanding as to why such cases are brought.
In fact, such negligence cases are always artificial; they are framed just so as to obtain proper funding for the care the victim needs for the rest of their life. The costs of that care will always be high, regardless of whether the victim can successively frame their case as a negligence claim or not.
Perhap the wisest thing I was ever taught at law school was said by Ray Hodgin, the expert in the law of insurance who taught the tort course at Birmingham University.
"Always remember," he said, "that the law of negligence is part of the law of insurance, and not vice versa".
Indeed, in practice, many negligence claims - especially in the field of personal injury - are insurance driven (or driven by there being a defendant with assets).
Read the judgment of the Kylie Grimes case carefully; see how the eventual decision as to whether she will get monies to cover the rest of her life depends on a sequence of assessments of law and evidence as to her and others' culpability.
But there is no assessment of her needs as a tetraplegic, though those needs will be the same whatever that outcome of this judicial exercise.
This is surely not the way that those who have very serious accidents should be dealt with.
In my opinion, those who have had very serious accidents should be entitled to appropriate compensation without the lottery of a negligence claim. A central fund should be established, financed by insurers, for those who have serious accidents and require life-long care. It probably would be cheaper for the insurance companies than fighting litigation. I understand this is the sensible approach of other countries.
The law is useful for certain purposes, but the law of negligence cannot be the best way of determining whether those who suffer very serious accidents get the resources they need to have appropriate care.
It may well be that sometimes it is "all their own fault" but in a civilized society the lack of funding for the care of the seriously injured is our responsibility, and not that of the claimant.
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