Aug 12 2010

Safety – Whose responsibility is it?

Category: corporations,justice,legislation,societyamuzikman @ 8:55 am

This from BBC news:

Ryanair Review Urged After Child Falls From Plane Steps (read the entire story here)

Recently a small child fell from a loading platform while boarding a jet in London.  The good news is that the little 3-year-old is fine,  just a bump on the head.  The bad news is that the airline will probably be sued by the mother and some all-too-eager attorney with visions of pound sterling dancing in his head.  The airline, not wanting any additional bad press will probably settle with the mother out of court for an “undisclosed amount”.  The airline will then probably order some reconfiguration of the boarding ramps to try and prevent a similar incident from occurring. They will then pass along the cost of the ramp retrofits to the consumer by increasing the baggage charge or perhaps initiating the first-ever rental fee on passenger jets for personal flotation devices.

What ever happened to accidents?

Why was this mother trying to handle so much all at once, especially given the multiple offers of assistance airlines give to mothers traveling with small children.  Why did the mother think of handing the smaller child off to the flight attendant only AFTER the little girl fell?  Why do we INSTANTLY assume negligence on the part of the airline?  Why doesn’t the Air Accident Investigation Branch order all parents of toddlers to undergo a review of their plane-boarding procedures?

The answer is at least in part the phalanx of John Edwards-type lawyers all too ready willing and able to go on the attack against the party with the “deep pockets”.  We have heard about how litigious our society has become and for good reason.  As long as these litigators are allowed to roam free with no governors on their behavior (like a loser-pays law or a monetary limit on damages) the queue of lawyers will continue to form everywhere something like this happens.

Another answer is the loss of the concept of personal responsibility in our world.  One need look no further than the body politic to see a very large group of elected and appointed government officials who virtually never take personal responsibility for ANYTHING!  Liars, cheaters, plagiarists, and influence peddlers are the stock -in-trade of congress. Our prisons are full of convicted criminals who are all innocent.  We have fat people who are not responsible for their weight, smokers who are not responsible for lighting up and illegal aliens who are not responsible for being here illegally.  I could go on.  So, why should this mother be responsible for her daughter’s accident?

I am a father.  My wife and I have raised 3 children.  When we got on a plane with our kids we made sure they got on the plane and in their seat.  When we took them to the playground it was our responsibility to see to it they didn’t break their neck.  Have you noticed the changes that have taken place at playgrounds over the last 20 years?  How did any of us who are over 30 ever survive?  The way we are going in another ten years all playgrounds will consist of a pile of pillows with the pillow cases depicting pictures of kids playing on REAL (but illegal) playground equipment.

Sometimes there is negligence on the part of the doctor, or lawyer or business. And when that happens there is a system in place to deal with it.  But sometimes it is not the fault of the party with the deep pockets, the blame lies with the so-called “little-guy”.  And sometimes it’s an accident.  But even to say so invites accusations of callousness and lack of caring and concern.

But I can’t be responsible for having written this.  My mother smoked while she was pregnant with me and she ate food with salt, and there was no warning label on this blog site and my English teacher in college was negligent and ….