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Motorist Cleared of Blame for Four-Year-Old Boy's Devastating Injuries

As a matter of common humanity, most people would wish damages to be paid to children who are seriously injured in road accidents. As a High Court ruling made plain, however, judges must put sentiment aside and dispassionately weigh the evidence in deciding where blame, if any, for such catastrophes lies.

The case concerned a four-year-old boy who was crushed beneath a passing Land Rover while crossing the road. He sustained devastating injuries to his head, brain and body. A personal injury claim was launched on his behalf against the driver, alleging that she had negligently failed to keep a proper lookout.

Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the boy's mother had witnessed the accident. She shouted 'stop' as she saw him preparing to move across the road, but to no avail. She gave her account of the life-changing incident and its consequences with great dignity and expressly on the basis that she bore no ill will towards the driver.

After hearing evidence from eyewitnesses and accident reconstruction experts, the Court found that the boy had run into the road from behind a parked car, immediately into the path of the Land Rover. He either ignored or did not hear his mother's warning. Children playing on the other side of the road were perhaps a distraction.

Dismissing the claim, the Court found that the driver had a very small window of opportunity to see the boy and may not in fact have been able to see him at all. He did not present a clear hazard in that he was very small and moving quickly. She had no opportunity to brake in time to prevent the collision. She had not fallen below the standards to be expected of a reasonably competent driver and nothing that she could have done would have prevented the accident.

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