Last month there was news that Britain’s Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, had caused a car crash near their home in Norfolk, UK, when he pulled onto a highway in front of a car that was traveling 50 miles per hour. The crash injured a 46-year-old woman who was riding with her friend and the friend’s 9-month-old baby. Fortunately the mother and baby were uninjured, but the passenger suffered a broken wrist, and became increasingly angry about the way she has been treated by the Royals and the press.
Even though he flipped his Land Rover, Prince Philip apparently did not suffer any serious injuries in the accident. He was taken to a nearby hospital for observation, but was seen a few days later driving a new Rover, reportedly without a seat belt. At 97 years old, the prince may not be open to changing his habits, but like all drivers, he has a responsibility to others for his actions behind the wheel, even if he is cavalier about his own safety on the road.
While the recent accident was sparking discussions about the Prince’s driving habits, news resurfaced of a similar crash in 1964 that involved not only Prince Philip but also Queen Elizabeth, who was riding in the front passenger seat. The other driver in that crash claimed he was forced off of the road by the Prince’s poor driving. The other driver’s car was badly damaged but he came away with just a hurt knee, perhaps what is commonly known as a “dashboard knee” injury.
It is fortunate that both of these crashes resulted in just limited injuries. Every week we see the effects of automobile accidents that change lives forever. Serious spine injuries and brain injuries are events from which many people never fully recover and for which adequate compensation simply does not exist. All too often we also see the most tragic result of a car accident – loss of life – in cases that become “wrongful death” claims for the victim’s surviving loved ones.
The woman who was hurt in Prince Philip’s recent crash sustained a serious wrist injury, but from the news coverage it appears that she is suffering mostly from hurt feelings and a sense of being treated poorly by the Royals and the media. And while we have never received a call from anyone who has had a run-in with a member of the Royal family, some people might be surprised to learn that the fame and fortune of the offending driver rarely has anything to do with the compensation received as a result of their negligence. Instead, compensation in personal injury cases is governed by the applicable law on damages. While those laws vary from place to place, only in rare circumstances do they allow the wealth of the negligent party to be considered in an award of damages to the injured party. If you have been involved in an accident and have any questions for us, our legal team here at Burnett & Williams would be more than happy to talk to you.