Institute of Expert Witnesses

Providing specialist advice and support in accident cases

The Institute of Expert Witnesses offers professional impartial and independent advice and provides qualified expert opinions to support the legal process of resolving cases of accidents and injury.


“LIKES CULTURE” - Encouragement to endangerment?


The culture of CELEBRITY status fuelled by “LIKES” may be responsible for pushing natural resistance of risk into unknown and unpredictable territory.

Websites like Liveleak that feature extreme stunts, companies that sponsor “successful” stunts and watchers who click LIKE all play a part in promoting the incidence of stunt accidents. It would seem unfair to use the term “accident” as these activities give “accidents” a bad name.

Wingsuit flyer Victor Kovats, Roof Topper Wu Yongning and Base Jumper Robert Haggarty all died knowing that error and death are identical twins. Roof topping and the death of Wu Yongning in a 62 storey fall make for sickening viewing branded with a sponsor logo!

There have been over 90 wingsuit deaths recorded since the turn of the century and possibly as many unrecorded. In Russia Rooftoppers die DAILY.

In many competitive sports, catastrophic life changing injuries and death have been recorded; thankfully they are rare. Gymnasts in general do understand the risks of over or under rotation, their long and well managed training regimes give them an acute awareness of risk and consequence and management of risk and error.  

In leisure activities there is an increasing proportion of incidents with dreadful consequences. But participants are held in check, in the main, by good facility and participant management.

Where those individuals are running free in parks and urban landscapes, building sites or deserted buildings there are no controls and the default safety net is the individual’s instinct to avoid pain and injury.

In a life or death escape, with time running out and outcomes predictably terminal the human mind is capable of powering the body to amazing feats of physical achievement. Is this also the case where the adulation of “likes” or peer encouragement are fed with a like click or an emoji?

Where activity companies do make valid and meaningful risk assessments based on knowledge, experience, advice and common sense they should have the credit for that work. But there will always be individuals who literally “fall short” of correctly deciding or accepting that their physical ability is not up to the challenge.

Why the participant failed to understand the consequence of failure should be considered in the light of a reasonable expectation of thinking and common sense. Where delivery has been well thought out with great efforts made to reveal and mitigate the consequences of failure or error, then factors that drive a participant into unrealistic ambitions should be accounted for. Expert Witness evidence can be vital in helping to determine where and how the line of personal responsibility was crossed.

If you have any questions regarding understanding the risk in sports or if you need expert witness advice on a case, please do not hesitate to contact our Expert Witnesses on 0117 986 2194 or at enquiries@iew.org.uk.


An article signed by our IEW President, Trevor Low BA, Dip AD & ATD.

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