RTA Claims: Updates in the Law

John Bennett
John Bennett

Published: November 2nd, 2023

6 min

Our Personal Injury team recently attended the Personal Injury Autumn Update at The Globe Centre in Accrington. This was an extremely informative event where the team learnt about recent updates in Personal Injury Law.

Of particular interest where the RTA cases described below, where the claimants won in unexpected circumstances.

FLR (A Child by her mother and litigation friend MLR) v Chandran 2023 EWHC 1671 (KB), 5th of July 2023

In this case, the 12-year-old claimant was hit by the defendant on her way to school whilst crossing the road at a controlled pedestrian crossing. The defendant was driving at 28mph in a 30mph speed limit. As a result of the accident, the claimant was left with a serious head injury, a bleed to the brain and a left collarbone fracture. Devastatingly, she has suffered long term cognitive and psychiatric problems.

The defendant maintained that the child ran out into the road when the lights were on green and therefore had been contributorily negligent.

The claimant's position was that the accident would not have happened if the defendant had been driving at a reasonable speed for the weather conditions at the time of the accident. Moreover, as 2 bus stops were in the vicinity of the accident and it was highly likely that there would have been pedestrians in the area at the time of the crash, thus the context of the situation demonstrated a need for the defendant to drive slowly.

The crucial finding of the court was that the claimant would have been visible in the vicinity to the crossing for approximately 30 metres had the defendant been driving at a 'reasonable speed' of 20mph.

Judgement:

Whilst it was held that the defendant had not been negligent, her standard of driving was below the standard of the reasonable and competent driver given the context of her surroundings. Despite this, the court found that the claimant had been contributorily negligent by stepping out into the road as the traffic lights were on green.

The court found for the claimant, with 60% of fault attributable to the defendant.

Macdonald v MS Amlin Corporate Member LTD [2023] EWHC 526 (KB), 1st of March 2023

In this case the claimant was riding a scooter and drove into a stationery lorry driven by Mr Chilvers, who had stopped the lorry due to hearing a noise from beneath it. The claimant suffered a spinal injury and severe traumatic brain injuries. The claim was brought against Mr Chilvers insurers.

The claimant's position was that the defendant had negligently caused the accident by creating an unjustified obstruction in the tunnel, and that even if stopping the lorry was justified, it had been negligent to stop where he had chosen to; there was a safer place to stop further ahead where the road widened into 2 lanes. The defendant argued that Mr Chilvers had not created a dangerous obstruction, and that stopping in the road was reasonable due to the noise he had heard under his vehicle and that the claimant had been negligent by driving into the back of the vehicle.

Judgement:

The case came down to the question of whether Mr Chilvers actions had fallen below the standard of what was expected of the reasonably competent driver, which could be assessed by asking the following questions:

1) Did the lorry create an obstruction?

2) Was the obstruction dangerous?

3) Was the dangerous obstruction justified in the circumstances?

In this case the court held that Mr Chilvers' lorry was an unjustifiable and dangerous obstruction because a reasonable motorist would know that stopping in the tunnel would be dangerous for other road users. The Court argued that if Mr Chilvers had intended to stop, he should have stopped further along the lane where it was safer to do so.

However, the Court also found the claimant to be contributorily negligent, as he should have ensured that he could see the road ahead before switching lanes. The claimant had failed to take reasonable care by moving in between lanes without ensuring that it was safe to do so.

The Court found for the claimant, with 60% of fault attributable to the defendant.

Master Bronte Brown Miss Lacey Brown (Children Suing By Their Grandmother and Litigation friend Tammy Sellers) V Mr Cosmin Sestras Aviva Insurance PLC Ms Danielle Sellers Axa Insurance UK PLC [2022] EWHC 1220 (KB), 22nd of May 2023

This case involved a serious accident on a dual carriageway. The first claimant, Bronte was a rear side passenger in a Peugeot car being driven by his mother, the third defendant Ms Sellers. He was sat behind the passenger seat with his mother's partner Adrian Graham. In the centre rear seat was the second claimant, his sister Lacey. In the rear side offside passenger seat was Bobby, the son of Mr Graham.

Just before the incident, Bronte unbuckled his seatbelt to remove his shoe, which Ms Sellers told him off for doing. At the same time, they became aware of a Mercedes Benz tailgating them, which moved up their inside quickly and cut into their lane, causing Ms Sellers to lose control of her vehicle. Bronte was left with severe injuries.

The case of the claimant was that the driver of the vehicle (Mr Sestras) had caused the accident. They also alleged that Ms Sellers, insured by the fourth defendant, was partially to blame for failing to control the vehicle. Mr Sestras denied involvement in the accident.

Evidence received from an anonymous caller confirmed that the registration on the Mercedes matched Mr Sestras' registration. The caller would not give his identity and could not be traced.

Judgment:

The Court relied on the hearsay evidence of the anonymous caller in their judgement, alongside evidence from the other defendants and the passengers inside the vehicle. Of particular importance was evidence from Bobby, who was able to identify the wife of Mr Sestras in the front of the Mercedes.

It was held that the evidence was sufficient to identify Mr Sestras as the driver of the Mercedes. It was clear that the Mercedes had caused the collision. The Courts view was that there was nothing that Ms Sellers could have done to avoid the accident; she acted instinctively by pulling away from the Mercedes.

The Court found for the claimant against the first defendant (Mr Sestras), who was indemnified by the second defendant, his insurers.

If you have experienced similar road traffic accidents as those mentioned in the cases above, or have an inquiry relating to a road traffic incident, do not hesitate to contact our Personal Injury team who have a wealth of expertise in this area.

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