Re: Risk mitigation (Was:Re: Mega-Tsunami..)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Sun Sep 09 2001 - 10:18:18 MDT

Russell Blackford wrote:
> Mike said
> >If you choose to drive, or to walk beside a road, you are voluntarily
> >assuming the risk that you could be in an accident with another car that
> >is out of your control.
> That's not the position in any legal system I know of. I'm not aware that
> volenti non fit injuria has ever been accepted as a defence in motor vehicle
> accident case--anywhere. We do *not* consent to negligent or reckless
> driving by (other) motorists.
> Maybe the law is different in New Hampshire...

I think you are misunderstanding my words. Acceptance of risk is not the
same as acceptance of responsibility. We do have a concept here in NH
called caveat emptor: "buyer beware". You engage in risky activity
voluntarily, and cannot hold others responsible for your lack of due
diligence, but you can hold them responsible for actions outside the

You get on a commercial aircraft knowing there is a 0.002 in 100,000
chance of dying on it. You can insure against this risk, and you can
hold others responsible if they acted improperly, but all else being
equal, you cannot hold others responsible for acts of god or nature.

For example, if you are walking on a roadway and the tire of a car kicks
a pebble off the road that hits you in the eye and blinds you, you can't
hold that car or its driver responsible, but if that pebble falls off of
a gravel truck that has insufficiently restrained its cargo, you can
hold the truck's owners and the driver responsible.

However, this is totally outside the bounds of the previous discussion,
which is about voluntary assumption of risk (which is separate from
responsibility). It is considered polite for a man to walk on the side
of the sidewalk nearest the road when walking with a woman, which is all
part of the tradition of 'women and children first' chivalry of men
assuming the greater risk. Whether this risk is of being splashed by
passing cars, or hit first by an errant vehicle, this risk is presumed
as a basis for this behavior.

When driving a vehicle, you are assuming a risk that you may cause an
accident, for which you obtain insurance, which also generally covers
pedestrians. Similarly, pedestrians generally have the right of way on
crosswalks and sidewalks, but not on open roadway.

These rules all exist because people recognise that there is a risk to
walking beside a road that is greater than walking elsewhere.

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