Game of Thrones Meets Personal Injury Law
April 27, 2016
Whether part of the Lannisters or the Starks, everyone in Winterfell, King’s Landing, the Wall and beyond has a right to live without undue harm caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions. The law in Pennsylvania (and other locations) provides survivors of other crimes the right to seek civil redress when liable parties cause injury.
Permanent, Long-Term Injury
When 10-year-old Brandon Stark fell from a balcony, it was immediately clear his injuries would be serious. Falling onto stones, he was unconscious for a period of weeks. After waking, his memory was affected, and he was told he would never walk again — ensuring he would not be able to work at the Wall or at many other trades. His salary and prospects would be affected by his injuries. In addition, he would potentially face many years of increased medical costs as well as pain and suffering due to his injuries. Since he is a minor, it was also evident his injuries would end up affecting the rest of his life — including his adult life.
A closer look at the situation revealed that the seeming accident was in fact no accident at all. Jaime Lannister had pushed the boy to avoid detection, since Jamie was trying to hide his relationship with Queen Cersei. Both Queen Cersei and Jaime Lannister knew of the fall and both could be held liable not only on criminal charges, but also in civil court for the losses caused.
Jaime’s words clearly reflect his culpability: “The boy won’t talk. And if he does, I’ll kill him. Him, Ned Stark, the King, the whole bloody lot of them until you and I are the only people left in this world.”
Jaime Lannister may in fact face multiple civil suits, including one stemming from the way Ned Stark and his men were waylaid on their journey after the Starks were questioned over the arrest of Tyrion. Lannister’s neutralizing of a Stark guard by impacting his eyes and his causing Ned Stark leg injuries could also mean a legal claim. Under civil law, survivors can seek damages for loss of wages, medical costs and other expenses related to their injuries. If Ned Stark had to pay for fresh horses to get him far from the site of attack and had to pay an innkeeper for lodgings while he recovered, he can also seek compensation for these damages from Lannister and his men.
However, Queen Cersei may choose to file civil charges as well as criminal charges against her co-defendant Jaime Lannister for forcing himself on her at her son’s funeral. She may also be able to sue the organizers of the Purple Wedding celebration for negligence leading to the death of her son, Joffrey.
Since Joffrey died at his own wedding, possibly as a result of something he drank, Queen Cersei and Joffrey’s widow Margaery may be able to file a claim alleging that proper security measures were not taken, allowing an unknown person to access the food and drink served to Joffrey. Margaery may be able to file a claim for losses, including loss of consortium, companionship (such as it was with Joffrey), and loss of financial resources her husband, the king, would have contributed to their household.
In point of fact, many of the residents of Westeros and Essos could find themselves in front of the court, both as defendants and plaintiffs for a number of claims, ranging from personal injury to other claims. As Cersei said, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
With all the intrigue and drama afoot, it is perhaps just as well the Lannisters and Starks choose to resolve their differences with swords. It is difficult to imagine their legal bills — and the time it would take their intricate cases to weave their way through a court system is much longer than it takes the narrative to unfurl itself on television screens.