You read and hear about it almost every day: The COVID-19 Pandemic will end. The question on most people’s minds is when? Another, and, if not more important question, is when the pandemic eases and ultimately ends, how will we handle it?
The short answer is, if history is a guide, not especially well. Concerning trends are already beginning to emerge in our “new normal.”
It has been widely reported that vehicular traffic is substantially down during the pandemic. This should decrease the number of automobile accidents and make driving generally safer. While indeed the number of automobile accidents has declined, the severity of accidents has increased. This is because in response to decreased vehicular traffic some people are responding by driving much faster, in excess of the speed limit, resulting in more severe accidents.
As restrictions on social gatherings have eased, some have responded by gathering in large groups, without masks, partying, often with alcohol, prompting reinstitution of restrictive measures, such as curfews, in response.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced many of us to alter our behavior. We wash our hands more regularly and thoroughly, we are mindful of others personal space, we wear masks to protect ourselves from germs and from spreading germs to others, we restrict our frequenting of restaurants and bars and exercise greater temperance-if for no other reason than government imposed curfews. These arguably positive changes, however, are not “voluntary.” As much as the government and media seek to portray and encourage them as such, the reality is that the reason most people are behaving this way (i.e. reasonably and responsibly) is because a combination of government, media and peer/social pressure are shaming and forcing them to do so.
So what can we expect when the pandemic eases and ultimately passes: it seems a return to the same irresponsible and largely self-centered (i.e., negligent or unreasonable) behavior is inevitable. Watch almost any news story or read almost any newspaper and you will find a discussion of things people are planning to do when the pandemic is over. The list typically includes social gatherings, partying, outdoor activities such as boating and fishing, the list goes on and on. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but they need to be enjoyed responsibly and safely.
Will the pandemic and the forced change in our seemingly “hard wired” human tendency for excess and lack of restraint result in long term behavioral change? Will we be any more inclined to not have that last drink, to not drive a car or boat after we have been drinking, to not be the last person to leave the party, and exercise common sense, good judgment and restraint in both our social and normal activities?
As trial lawyers representing people seriously injured due to the negligence (failure to use reasonable care) of others, we sincerely hope that one of the takeaways from our common experience is a lesson learned about the need for all of us to act reasonably and responsibly, because our actions indeed effect more than ourselves. We have all seen this in the need to voluntarily restrain ourselves to end this scourge on our world; if as we come out of the pandemic we can carry with us a bit of the same mindset as we resume our normal activities the lasting lesson of the pandemic, will make things safer for all of us.
About the Author
Curtis J. Mase is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer and the founder and managing shareholder of Mase Mebane. He represents serious personal injury victims focusing on maritime & admiralty, sexual assault, negligence, and products liability matters.
Curtis is Board Certified by both the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and is AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.