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The claimant cycled out from between parked cars and was hit by an uninsured driver. The claimant suffered a serious spinal cord injury. The claim failed on liability after the court found that the first defendant was travelling within the speed limit and could do nothing to avoid the collision.
The first defendant was driving in a residential area where the speed limit was 30mph. There were parked cars on either side of the road. The claimant cycled out from between the parked cars on the defendant's nearside and was hit by the front of the vehicle. The first defendant was uninsured, hence the involvement of the Motor Insurers' Bureau as second defendant. The first defendant was fined for driving without insurance but not charged with any other driving offences.
The claimant suffered a burst fracture of C4 and a wedge fracture of C5 rendering him tetraplegic. He also suffered a mid-shaft fracture of the right femur and various other soft tissue injuries.
It was the claimant's case that the first defendant was driving with excessive speed and failed to keep a proper look out. It was argued that had this not been the case, the accident would have been avoided. It was also pleaded that the first defendant was straddling the centre line and therefore had time to stop.
The court favoured the evidence of the defendants' accident reconstruction expert that the first defendant was driving within the speed limit and said there was no reason for the first defendant to be driving any slower than he had been. The first defendant said that he looked to his nearside because of the parked cars there, before turning his attention to an oncoming driver. The judge found that he had kept a proper look out. The court also found compelling the evidence of the oncoming driver who said that the first defendant's vehicle was near the kerb (rather than in the centre of the road).
The court found that the defendant driver had not been negligent and the claimant therefore lost any entitlement to compensation for his injuries. Quantum was assessed by the court but this had little significance for him.
Given the nature of his injuries the court's decision had tragic consequences for the claimant. The judge was aware of this and expressed his sympathy when delivering his decision in favour of the first defendant. Had primary liability been established in the claimant's favour it is likely that a high degree of contributory negligence would have applied. In those circumstances the claimant would have received some funding for his future needs. In the circumstances however, the claimant stands to receive nothing.
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