Catastrophic claim dismissed due to defendant driver car

Jessop (a protected party suing by her mother and litigation friend, Veronic Rundle) v Nixon (Queens Bench Divison 14 December 2010)

Following a road traffic accident in March 2008, the claimant, Robert Jessop, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. He instructed Stewarts Law to represent him and, as he did not have the capacity to conduct the proceedings, they were brought in February 2010 by his mother as his litigation friend. The preliminary hearing was to determine liability and contributory negligence.

The claimant was a motorcyclists driving on a main road. The defendant was emerging from a minor side road in a car; he was edging out and intending to go turn right. The claimant hit the defendants car before travelling onto the wrong side of the road, striking the kerb and hitting a lamppost, which then fell on him.

The claimant had no recollection of the accident and took no part in the hearing. The evidence of the witnesses and the opinion of both parties accident reconstruction experts was that the claimant was driving in excess of the 30 mph speed limit and was probably driving at around 50 mph.

The defendants evidence was that this view of the claimants approach was restricted by vehicles parked at the side of the road and that he had been edging out when the claimants headlight became visible. He immediately braked to a halt and was hit by the claimants motorcycle.

Lady Justice Sift found that the defendant took all reasonable care when performing his manoeuvre. The precautions would have been sufficient to ensure the safety of vehicle being driven along the main road in a reasonably prudent manner.

The accident occurred because of the claimants failure to drive in such a manner. Had he done so, he would have had ample time to stop before the impact or to steer around the front of the defendants stationary car. The claim was dismissed.

This case highlights that if a driver is emerging from a side road in a cautious and careful manner and a collision occurs with a driver on the main road, liability will not necessarily attach to the emerging driver. Although claimants suffering catastrophic injuries attract sympathy from the Court, the defendants standard of driving is a crucial factor to these cases.