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Press Release: What happened to help thy neighbour? Study shows millions of us don’t stop to help others in need of aid

Over a third of Britons would not go out of their way to help someone they witnessed having an accident, leaving the victim to fend for themselves regardless of their injury.

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9 March 2011 / personal-injury-news

Over a third of Britons would not go out of their way to help someone they witnessed having an accident, leaving the victim to fend for themselves regardless of their injury. Research commissioned by National Accident Helpline shows that our initial reaction is more likely to be to laugh or just walk away – or even a mixture of the two – rather than offer assistance.

David Cameron’s desire for a “Big Society” has bigger challenges ahead than just the political ones. It seems that as a society we have forgotten how to be good neighbours. Nearly 70 per cent (69%) of respondents would not help someone they had witnessed suffer an accident, with 15 per cent stating they would not consider helping even if the person looked injured.

Renowned psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos explains our reactions: “Laughing or walking away at the scene of an accident may sound shocking, but they are natural and instinctive reactions. We laugh to minimise the seriousness of the situation and to make it easier for us to deal with rather than take in the enormity of it straight away, whilst walking away may not be a selfish reaction but in fact a desire to keep ourselves safe. 

“But we all know that when the shoe is on the other foot, it can be hurtful and upsetting. Having somebody laugh at us can make us feel ashamed and embarrassed, which can make us reluctant to seek help or advice. However, when somebody does offer assistance and show support, we naturally feel less like the underdog and more like somebody is on our side.”

The research shows that 50 per cent would feel angry that nobody came to their aid and 48 per cent would feel embarrassed if they suffered an accident and nobody offered to help.

The research also highlights that it is the perception of the severity of an accident that compels us to help: our judgment is often made on the type of victim and whether there are any visible signs of injury. For example, a third (30.5%) of respondents to the survey claimed that they would be more likely to help the elderly, rather than teenage boys (4.4%), whilst 81 per cent would offer immediate assistance if there were signs of blood – regardless of the type of injury suffered.

Sam Porteous, CEO of National Accident Helpline, says: “The research indicates that as a nation we seem to have forgotten how to help people in distress. Recognising that a helping hand can make all the difference to those in need is a vital component of being part of a caring society. Even the smallest of accidents, which may not necessarily appear to be serious, can have significant consequences. We should all remember how easy it is to help someone, no matter what their injury, so next time you see someone fall over, help them, don’t laugh at them.”

National Accident Helpline is the leading marketing group for solicitors specialising in personal injury and is responsible for the recent campaign championing consumers’ rights to justice through the website

Read the 'What happened to help thy neighbour?' research in full here.


For media enquiries please contact: Matthew Rosser, National Accident Helpline:, Tel. 01536 527500/07834 518603

About National Accident Helpline National Accident Helpline is the leading marketing and legal services company for solicitors who specialise in Personal Injury law and represents more than 100 legal practices across the UK. If a consumer has had an accident which was someone else’s fault then we will put them in touch with a member firm, so they can seek redress for the injury they have suffered. Through our national solicitor network, we champion consumer rights for people who have had accidents, helping those with genuine claims to seek redress and gain access to justice to help aid their recovery.

National Accident Helpline is authorised by the Ministry of Justice in respect of regulated claims management activities and is a registered company, incorporated in the UK. For more information please visit the website:

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