Road Safety WeekNov 24, 2019
Ensuring everyone acts with care
18-24 November 2019 is Road Safety Week for Brake, the road safety charity.
This year the charity is encouraging everyone to step up and use roads safely. One of the ways that people can do this is by minimising use of a car and opt to walk when it is possible. The charity wants everyone to contribute to keeping the roads safe to ensure all deaths and serious injuries are prevented.
In a recent Department for Transport publication, there were 1,784 reported fatalities on the roads in Great Britain in 2018 and in the same year, 25,511 people were reported to the police as being seriously injured casualties in road traffic accidents.
There are some circumstances where the injured party must bear some of the blame for an accident, due to their own actions, and the judge will adjust the compensation in accordance with this. One example of this is shown in the case of Adams v Gibson 2016.
In this case the Defendant was driving at night on a single-carriage road with speed bumps which carried a 30mph speed limit. There were several parked cars along the road. When the Defendant approached a raised pedestrian crossing the Claimant, who had been drinking, crossed the road and was struck by the Defendant’s car. The Claimant was thrown several meters and suffered severe brain injuries and loss of capacity.
The Defendant argued that the collision took place before the crossing and that although he had seen the Claimant on the pavement, he did not see him cross until the moment of impact. However, there were factual disputes over where the accident took place because witnesses recall it happening after the crossing. There was also dispute over the Defendant’s speed, quality of lighting and angle at which the Claimant had crossed the road.
It was found on a balance of probabilities that the accident took place just prior to the crossing and the Defendant was likely to have been driving between 20-25 mph. The Defendant did argue that the street was not lit adequately but there was no evidence to suggest this. There were also no obstructions to the Defendant’s view, the parked cars had been set back and no trees or railings obscured the view.
It was found that the Defendant was negligent because he had seen the Claimant before he crossed the road but due to possible distraction, he did not see him again until the moment of impact. It was found that the collision could have been avoided if he had foreseen that the Claimant might step into the street and slowed down. As the Defendant was approaching a crossing at night, he would know that pedestrians might be around, but he failed to exercise the care of a reasonably prudent motorist.
However, it was found that the Claimant had contributed towards his injuries in two ways. Firstly, the Claimant did not look right before stepping into the road. A prudent pedestrian seeing an approaching vehicle would not have stepped out. Secondly, he had not chosen to use the crossing, which a prudent pedestrian would have done. On the balance of probabilities, had the Claimant used the crossing or looked right, the collision would have been avoided. There was no doubt that the Claimant’s actions were down to his alcohol consumption.
The compensation awarded to the Claimant was reduced by one-third due to contributory negligence. As the Defendant was a motorist, he had a higher portion of the liability because he is driving a machine that can cause significant injury, but the Claimant had a serious disregard for his safety.
This case shows how there is a higher duty on a motorist because they are at a greater risk to cause significant injury. It is not only important for motorists to ensure they act as the reasonable potent driver, but it is for pedestrians to ensure they are also acting in a safe manner in order to keep the streets a safe place.
At Nash & Co, we act for Claimant’s who have been involved in road traffic accidents and understand the injuries can be life changing, not only physically but mentally also. Road Safety Week is about trying to prevent road traffic accident fatalities and injuries, to ensure we have safer roads and to lead a healthier future.