15 JUL 2014
Charlotte Rainford (a protected party, by her father & litigation friend Ian Rainford) v Kay Lawrenson  EWHC 1188 (QB) – road traffic accident – children – contributory negligence
High Court, Queen's bench Division
15 April 2014
The claimant aged 14 was on her way to school with her sister aged 16. They were standing on the road side witha friend, intending to cross to a bus stop on the other side. The claimant unexpectedly stepped out in front of the defendant who was unable to stop andhit her, resulting in serious injuries. The court determined liability between the parties on a 50/50 basis.
The claimant and her sister were standing with a friend at the side of the road. They were on their way to school and intended to a catch a bus from the other side. The claimant stepped out as a car approached and was hit, suffering a serious head injury in the process.
The claimant was unable to give evidence. Her sister told the court that their friend had stepped forward before the collision and she pulled her back. From the corner of her eye she saw the claimant advance forward and she was hit. The defendant said she sawthe girls but could do nothing to avoid the collision after the claimant unexpectedly stepped out.
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In determining primary liability against the defendant the court found that she ought to have been extra vigilant due to the presence of school children on the road and also should have anticipated that they may cross unexpectedly as there were bus stops oneach side.
In determining contributory negligence the court considered the maturity of the claimant, the actions ofthe defendant and previous cases involving children. It was found that the claimant ought to be held no more responsible than the defendant and a finding of 50/50 was made.
This sad case concerning a young girl who suffered life long injuries, highlights the issue that the court, when assessing contributory negligence, apportions liability on the facts of any given case. In the present case, a finding of 50/50 was fair. The defendant hadsought a much more substantial reduction so the claimant was right to have the issue tried as a preliminary issue.