Navigating the Justice System
Psychologists agree that after a traumatic event people have three essential needs:
- to receive full and accurate information
- to know that their human rights are being upheld
- to receive acknowledgement of their loss and suffering by society, government and the judicial system.
Denying someone of any or all of these needs may lead to them being unable to benefit from help, including counselling, and may even cause psychological harm.
RoadPeace agrees. As devastating as a road death is, we believe that it is possible to make this experience even worse for those bereaved through a lack of information about the circumstances of their loved one’s death and the follow-up investigation and prosecution, if any.
When RoadPeace was established, no information was provided to bereaved families. We produced the first guide to road deaths for bereaved families, based on 150 case studies we collected for a 1992-94 road death working group, convened by Victim Support.
Now we produce specific guides and shorter information sheets on the different stages of the legal procedures that follow a road death. This is because we do not want to mislead families. Few fatal crashes, less than 20%, result in a driver being prosecuted for causing the death. So the majority of bereaved families will not need the information about attending court or making a Victim Personal Statement. But they do need to know about how the charging decision is made and about inquests.
For important deadlines during the legal procedures that follow a road death see our Deadlines to Remember.