For all your legal challenges...

We're here to help


Judge Sifts Evidence to Find Motorist Responsible for Serious Road Accident

The speed with which road accidents occur can make it extremely difficult to discern with absolute certainty where fault lies. However, as a case concerning a severely injured motorcycle pillion passenger showed, judges are adept at sifting detailed evidence to arrive at conclusions on the balance of probabilities.

The woman was on the back of a 1,000cc motorbike when it collided head-on with a car on part of a trunk road that was replete with complex road markings. The biker was fatally injured. After the woman issued a personal injury claim against both the biker's estate and the car driver, it fell to a judge to decide where responsibility for the accident rested.

In doing so, the judge considered a thorough police report of the accident together with the evidence of a number of eyewitnesses and the testimony of no fewer than three accident reconstruction experts. Laser measurements of the road and marks left by skidding tyres and spilt oil played a prominent part in the case.

Ruling on the matter, the High Court found that the most probable explanation was that the car driver lost concentration for a relatively prolonged period and drifted onto the wrong side of the road. That represented a serious failure to exercise reasonable care for other road users. Although he was driving at a safe speed, he did not see the motorbike coming towards him until the last moment and made no attempt to avoid the collision.

The biker was travelling slightly in excess of the 60mph speed limit. In ruling that he had not been negligent, however, the judge found that his speed did not give rise to a foreseeable risk of harm to his passenger. He was riding in his correct lane and the consequences of the accident would have been no different had he been going at a slightly lower speed. The judge's ruling opened the way for the woman to proceed with her claim against the car driver. Her claim against the biker was dismissed.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.