David McLeod | Senior Solicitor

Pedestrians and vehicles – recent developments

There have been recent decisions in England following accidents involving pedestrians who have been struck by motor vehicles, which have considered the element of contribution to an accident resulting in injury to a pedestrian.
In the cases of Podesta v Akhtar and Brushett v Hazeldean, the court was asked to consider the position in relation to liability when both Claimants should have been aware of the Defendants’ vehicles.
In Podesta, the court held that the driver would have had a clear, unobstructed view of the Claimant, but also the vehicle would have been clearly visible to the Claimant. The court held that the Claimant was 30% liable for the accident.
In Brushett, the Claimant was looking at her mobile phone as she crossed the road. The driver sounded his horn, and other pedestrians moved off the road. The court noted however that while the driver was following the general rules of the road, they should also considered that pedestrians may also act unexpectedly. In this case, the responsibility for the accident was apportioned 50% to each party.
In Scotland, there have been a number of reported cases over the last few years involving pedestrians. In Buck v Ainslie, the Court of Session absolved a driver from any blame where it could not be said that the driver ought to have seen the pedestrian. Conversely, in McCreery v Letson, the Court of Session found that a van driver had been negligent when striking a pedestrian, where he had failed to have regard to the potential dangers facing him and was driving too quickly. The Court attributed liability 50% to each party.
This all follows from the landmark case of Jackson v Murray, which reached the Supreme Court. The Court of Session had initially assessed contributory negligence at 70% when a you girl stepped out from behind a mini bus into the path of a car. Based on the evidence, and the fact that the driver should have been aware of pedestrians crossing the road after exiting the bus, the Supreme Court established that the Pursuer had contributed to the accident on a 50% basis.
The lessons to take from the existing and recent case law is that each case has to be judged on its own merits. It is clear that the awareness of the other party, or at least, when one party should be aware of the other, is of importance when establishing the element of liability to attach to each party.

David McLeod

David McLeod

Personal Injury Team

“I enjoy the preparation of cases for presentation at proof, but also managing to settle cases for clients without the need to appear in court.”

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