Catastrophes used to be regarded as Acts of God, but nowadays tend to be blamed as Acts of Man. Although human error is a cause in the majority of accidents, it is seldomly the sole cause. Major accidents are usually the result of several errors made at different moments by different people that coincide in an extraordinary way.
Errors are common and inevitable. Humans make them regularly. But, when made in interaction with devices that can `crash, sink, burn, or explode,` errors can have catastrophic consequences. Accidents that involve complex technologies like (petro)chemistry, nuclear physics, aviation, trains, ships, and medicine can cause severe damage.
Those whose error caused an accident can be held criminally liable if their error can be considered to be gross negligence or culpa lata. The judgement whether that is the case can be influenced by biases. After a catastrophe has happened it tends to be regarded to have been more predictable and imaginable than it was and thus more blameworthy. Furthermore, the judgement on blameworthiness can be more harsh due to Garantenstellung; a higher responsibility or standard of care, that can rest upon a person in a specific capacity.
Such a higher standard of care also rests upon experts. Experts are people who have acquired extraordinary knowledge and skill in a particular field through extensive experience. With experience the ability to perform on an unconscious, automatic or skill-based level. Expert performance tends to be superior and very reliable, but it is not flawless. Paradoxically, experts can sometimes err due to their expertise. This study makes the case to limit liability to those experts who cause catastrophes despite their expertise, not due to it.
Taal / Language : English
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