The term ‘accident’ is often bandied about loosely in modern life. Accident means something that happens without prior mediation; that is unintended, sudden and unexpected.
Most people would probably associate ‘accident’ with car crashes. On hearing, ‘John’s had an accident’ most would probably assume that John had been the victim of a mishap on the road.
However, the fact is that, while many ‘accidents’ may indeed be unintentional, they are the result of poor planning, negligence, carelessness, defective equipment, poorly maintained environment, and so on. A genuine accident has no repercussions for the person or people that caused or allowed it to happen.
Road accidents are rarely nobody’s fault. Yes, the person who triggers a crash may certainly not have wanted it to happen, but if they end up killing or injuring somebody it is often not sufficient for them to say ‘I didn’t mean to do it.’ If they have been driving dangerously, speeding, tailgating, drink-driving etc, then they should be held responsible for their actions if they affect an innocent party.
Likewise in the case of work accidents, some industries, such as construction and building, need to be meticulously regulated to cover the possibility of workers being hurt. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive requires risk assessment to be carried out across all areas of a workplace to try and minimise the risks that are inherent in the industry.
Of course, sometimes there are accidents, in the true sense of the word – if an employee has been injured in an accident that is adjudged to be of his own doing, then his company will escape without penalty and he will be unable to claim compensation.
This could be the case if he has received training and been told that if he does not wear his protective clothing then he is out of a job, and yet walks on site without his hard hat on, and proceeds to act in a manner which is likely to endanger himself or his colleagues, in spite of his training.
In that case, if the victim is the negligent party, then any resultant accident will be his fault, and he will be entitled to nothing.
Nobody wants to see innocent people suffering detriment – either victims being hurt or people having genuine accidents that could not be avoided and for which they should not be punished.
But remember that, in many cases, an accident isn’t necessarily one at all.