Pedestrian Accident Claims

Pedestrians are singled out in the Highway Code as vulnerable road users as are cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. A breach of the Highway Code can be considered to be evidence of the criminal motoring offence of Careless Driving. If a motorist is convicted of careless driving, a claim for negligence will almost definitely succeed. However, even if a driver is not prosecuted or convicted of a motoring offence following a pedestrian accident claims, a simple breach of the Highway Code is likely to stand as evidence that liability for a civil claim should rest with the driver.

The guidance in the Highway Code reflects the fact that pedestrians don’t have the protection of a metal box loaded with safety features to protect them in the event of pedestrian accident claims. Pedestrians are arguably the most vulnerable of all road users as they are slower moving and less visible than bikes or horse riders. In many European countries this vulnerability is further backed up by a rule of strict liability where if a pedestrian is hit by a car, it is automatically the driver’s fault regardless of the circumstances. However, in the UK a pedestrian injured in a road traffic accident does not receive any special treatment and has to prove liability in the same way as they would if they were in a car.

This doesn’t mean that pedestrians have the same evidential hurdles to overcome as drivers. Walking or running are different acts to driving and have a different duty of care. There is a wealth of case law where the court has given judgments which provide additional protection to pedestrians and if you have been in an accident it is important that you instruct a firm that knows the case law. JS Miller Solicitors is that firm.

Due to our expertise we have taken over conduct and won many cases that other solicitors believed had no prospects of success. For example we acted a young lady who had been turned down by several solicitors before she came to us. She had been walking home from the pub one evening with a group of her friends. One of her friends ran across the road and she followed without looking and was hit by a coach. There were independent witnesses that supported that the bus was travelling at around the speed limit and that when our client stepped out she was within the coach’s stopping distance. The coach’s insurer defended the claim on the basis that the driver was driving to a good standard and there was nothing he could have done to stop the vehicle before impact when she stepped out.

What the insurer didn’t appreciate was that the coach driver should have slowed when approaching the Claimant’s group having noted their intoxicated state. The speed limit is not a maximum speed drivers should travel at and in circumstances where it is foreseeable that people may step out, be they children playing or partygoers, drivers should be going much slower.

As experts we were able to point to the case of Parkinson v Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police [2004] EWCA Civ 802, a Court of Appeal judgment dealing with very similar circumstances and the insurer settled the claim.

While we may be able to help where liability is complex or challenging our expertise is equally useful in matters which on paper seem clear cut. Litigation is often complicated and even simple matters can present problems which would benefit from our genuine expertise.

Please note that the way personal injury claims are funded will change from 01/04/2013.From this date success fees and after the event insurance premiums are no longer recoverable from the Defendant if the claim is successful and are payable by the Claimant from their damages.If you have been injured in an accident and wish to make a claim and do not want to have to pay up to 25% of your damages in success fees please contact us immediately.

Please be aware because of the bank holiday we will not be able to obtain insurance or take claims under the old regime (i.e. where no deductions are made from your damages) after 12pm on 28/03/2013

 

 

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