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Running red lights can get you hurt..

bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
edited December 2011 in Commuting chat
... and get you to shoulder the blame. Interesting case below. Glad to see that no contrib due to failure to wear hi-viz / helmet (I have only read the summary though).




MALASI v ATTMED (2011)
http://www.lawtel.com/Content/Document. ... =AC9300999

QBD (Judge Seymour QC) 5/12/2011

PERSONAL INJURY - NEGLIGENCE - ROAD TRAFFIC

APPORTIONMENT : CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE : CYCLING : ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS : COLLISION BETWEEN TAXI AND BICYCLE : CYCLIST'S FAILURE TO STOP AT RED LIGHT OR BRAKE IN TIME TO AVOID COLLISION : APPROPRIATE APPORTIONMENT : s.1(1) LAW REFORM (CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE) ACT 1945

While a road traffic accident in which a cyclist was injured had been caused by a taxi driver's excessive speed, the cyclist had been contributorily negligent by failing to stop at a red traffic light and failing to brake in sufficient time to avoid the collision. Damages for personal injury were therefore reduced by 80 per cent.

The court was required to determine whether the defendant taxi driver (T) was liable in negligence for the injuries suffered by the claimant cyclist (B). T was involved in a collision with B in which B suffered serious injury, and had no recall of the accident. The accident occurred when early one morning, T, together with a fare-paying passenger (P), approached and proceeded through a T-junction, when B, travelling from the left, collided with the front left hand section of T's vehicle. On T and P's accounts, T had had a green light in his favour and had braked as soon as he saw B. T pleaded that B had been contributorily negligent in wearing dark clothing; keeping his head down and not keeping a proper lookout; running a red light; failing to wear a hi-visibility vest and helmet and in failing to apply his brakes in sufficient time to avoid a collision. Both parties' experts agreed that T had been travelling between 41-50 mph immediately before the collision. The experts' reports also agreed on all other factual conclusions. The issues for determination included (i) the resolution of any factual issues and consideration of the effect of the conclusions drawn in the experts' reports; (ii) whether travelling at speed was per se negligent; (iii) a consideration of other possible causative factors, including an allegation that T's ABS system had not been in working order; (iv) the apportionment of liability.

HELD: (1) T's accounts of the accident were consistent and supported by P's evidence. Insofar as there was any factual dispute, the court held that the traffic lights had been green in T's favour when he drove his vehicle through the T-junction and collided with B. It followed as a matter of logic and common sense that B had travelled through the junction against a red light with which he ought to have complied and stopped. The court accepted the experts' reports' conclusions without reservation; it was plain that if B had complied with the traffic signal then there would have been no accident, and that if he had reduced his speed by 0.3 to 0.4 seconds he would have travelled behind T's vehicle. If, having passed through the red light, B had paid attention to the presence of the taxi and if he had taken even modest steps to take account of it then the collision would have been avoided. On the other hand, it was plain on the experts' findings that even if, as was the case, B had failed to comply with the traffic lights, and had failed to take account of the taxi, there would have nonetheless been no collision if T had not been driving at 41-50 mph where there had been a speed limit of 30 mph. (2) Although T's submission that travelling at a high speed was not negligent unless particular conditions precluded it was technically correct, it was important to remember that the authority relied on had been decided when there was no maximum speed limit, Quinn v Scott (1965) 1 WLR 1004 QBD considered. Such a point would avail anyone who had exceeded the speed limit who had been involved in an accident. All motorists had to have regard to fixed speed limits and that limit was an indicator of the likelihood of accidents and the nature of hazards. In the instant case, a speed limit of 30 mph had been imposed. Had T been travelling modestly over the speed limit it was possible that the court, depending on the circumstances, might not have concluded that T had been driving negligently, but T had been travelling gloriously in excess of the speed limit at at least 41 mph. T's negligence in driving at that speed was causative of the collision and the injuries that B suffered, notwithstanding B's defalcations, given that no accident would have occurred had T been driving within the speed limit. (3) In light of the finding that T had been driving at an excess speed, it was not relevant whether T's ABS system had not been working; if T had been travelling within the speed limit, he would have been able to avoid the accident which in fact occurred. In circumstances where T had had a good perception-response time, the fact that B had not been wearing a hi-visibility vest, and had been wearing dark clothing, was immaterial. (4) In considering the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 s.1(1), the accident had three causative factors; B's running of the red light; B's failure to apply his brakes in time to avoid the accident and T's excessive speed in that without any one of these factors there would have been no accident and no injury. Accordingly, the balance of fault lay very heavily with B. The extent of T's responsibility for B's injuries depended on him travelling at an excess speed through a green light, where T had a legitimate expectation that other road users, including cyclists, would comply with the traffic signals. Accordingly, B's damages were to be reduced by 80 per cent.

Judgment accordingly

Counsel:
For the claimant: Catherine Howells
For the defendant: Marcus Dignum

Solicitors:
For the claimant: Ameer Meredith (Cambridge)
For the defendant: Morris Orman Hearle

LTL 6/12/2011 EXTEMPORE

Document No.: AC9300999

«13

Posts

  • clarkey catclarkey cat Posts: 3,641
    T had been travelling gloriously in excess of the speed limit

    80% reduction seems a bit excessive in light of this. Of course running red lights is bad though. Very bad.
  • GallywomackGallywomack Posts: 823
    edited December 2011
    Strange choice of language here:
    T had been travelling gloriously in excess of the speed limit at at least 41 mph

    Seems fair enough, not to sound callous but it's hard to have too much sympathy for the cyclist if it all went down as described. Mind you, if there were no other witnesses, given the cycist can't remember the incident, wouldn't the fact that the court agreed that the green was in the driver's favour be based only on his and his passenger's accounts?
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    I'm just going to come right out and say it he got 20% for breaking the law.... if he hadn't of run the red he wouldn't be there. If he was in car ran a red and was injured would he have got 20%?
    Commuter: Forme Vision Red/Black FCN 4
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  • notsobluenotsoblue Posts: 5,838
    Torvid wrote:
    I'm just going to come right out and say it he got 20% for breaking the law....
    Well, to be fair, they were *both* breaking the law.

    That said, the cyclist has huge balls for trying to claim for damages sustained because he ran a red light...
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    Torvid wrote:
    I'm just going to come right out and say it he got 20% for breaking the law.... if he hadn't of run the red he wouldn't be there. If he was in car ran a red and was injured would he have got 20%?
    Yes.

    Likewise, if the taxi wasn't well above the speed limit there would have been no collision. If the taxi was driving at or below 30mph and there was a collision in otherwise identical circumstances, the cyclist would have got nothing.

    Imagine you're driving along the motorway at 75mph when a drunk driver comes the wrong way down a slip road and smashes into you head on. Would it be right to say that you should get nothing?
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    yeah apparently 2 wrongs = 20%

    Honestly this one is no ones fualt but the cyclists
    Commuter: Forme Vision Red/Black FCN 4
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  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    Torvid wrote:
    yeah apparently 2 wrongs = 20%

    Honestly this one is no ones fualt but the cyclists
    Sorry, but that's not true. The driver was at fault too.
    "there would have nonetheless been no collision if T had not been driving at 41-50 mph where there had been a speed limit of 30 mph"

    The ruling has said that it was 80% the fault of the RLJing cyclist, and 20% the fault of the speeding motorist. If either one or both of them had obeyed the law, there would have been no collision.
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • W1W1 Posts: 2,636
    Doesn't seem like an unreasonable judgement to me.

    If T hadn't been speeding, B would have been 100% at fault.
  • PufftmwPufftmw Posts: 1,941
    Torvid wrote:
    I'm just going to come right out and say it he got 20% for breaking the law.... if he hadn't of run the red he wouldn't be there. If he was in car ran a red and was injured would he have got 20%?

    That is why it is often worthwhile for someone to make a claim even with a high contributory negligence factor. It doesn't state how bad B's injuries were but say he was now a tertraplegic needing 24/7 care for the rest of his life, then 20% of a £5m claim is still worthwhile and well over/above what he might expect from the state.

    Not saying its right, its just the law in this land. Just like RLJ is an offence - don't do it folks!
  • jedsterjedster Posts: 2,004
    How can anyone say this was "only" the cyclists fault?

    Seems to me that the verdict is very clear and well argued.

    Both the driver and the cyclist were at fault, if either one had obeyed the law there would have been no accident. You have to be a bit hard of thinking not to get that.

    That said, the cyclist's errors were bigger than the drivers hence the 80% reduction. Fine - seems fair to me.

    Ignoring the cyclist for a minute, I think driving 45mph in a 30 zone is pretty appalling behaviour. 30 zones are set exactly because "stuff happens" in them and you need the extra reaction time to avoid nasty accidents...
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    bails87 wrote:
    Torvid wrote:
    yeah apparently 2 wrongs = 20%

    Honestly this one is no ones fualt but the cyclists
    Sorry, but that's not true. The driver was at fault too.
    "there would have nonetheless been no collision if T had not been driving at 41-50 mph where there had been a speed limit of 30 mph"

    The ruling has said that it was 80% the fault of the RLJing cyclist, and 20% the fault of the speeding motorist. If either one or both of them had obeyed the law, there would have been no collision.

    This is the same b*ll*cks as when you leave something unsafe in your home and burglar hurts themself you're doing something wrong you should live with it. If you RLJ you're 100% at fualt how can you not be you shouldn't be doing it full stop. If you hadn't irrespective of anything else you wouldn't be in the crash thats your fualt who cares what the taxi driver was doing the cyclist was the one in the wrong. I'm not condoning the speeding but frankly theres a line and the cyclist sailed though it.

    If it had been a none time delayed amber thats a whole other ball game but red means stop not carry on we won't completely blame you if anything happens.
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  • clarkey catclarkey cat Posts: 3,641
    Torvid.

    Lets say I have a machine gun set up that fires bullets down a road whenever a green light is shown. If someone cuts across that green-lighted road (ie. jumping a red light on a road to which it adjuncts) and is brutally shot to pieces - who is at fault?

    1) the RLJer?
    2) the illegal gunman?
    3) bit of both...?
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 23,715 Lives Here
    bails87 wrote:
    Torvid wrote:
    I'm just going to come right out and say it he got 20% for breaking the law.... if he hadn't of run the red he wouldn't be there. If he was in car ran a red and was injured would he have got 20%?
    Yes.

    Likewise, if the taxi wasn't well above the speed limit there would have been no collision. If the taxi was driving at or below 30mph and there was a collision in otherwise identical circumstances, the cyclist would have got nothing.

    Imagine you're driving along the motorway at 75mph when a drunk driver comes the wrong way down a slip road and smashes into you head on. Would it be right to say that you should get nothing?
    In the example you give the vast majority of the blame would fall on the drunk driver because he is more in the wrong. It wouldn't go 50/50 either. There may be some reduction if it could be proved that travelling at 75mph was contributory. But as in this case they would look at what caused the accident and aportion damages accordingly.
    There isn't just breaking the law and not breaking the law. Murder is worse than manslaughter, which in turn is worse than littering.
    The cyclist was more responsible for the accident than the taxi. Not only did he run a red light. He didn't even look to see if anything was coming. They also state that if the cyclist had braked he would have avoided the accident.
    The cyclist claimed for damages because of the ridiculous culture we seem to be developing in which individuals seem to completely absolve themselves of any responsibility for their own safety. I actually feel he shouldn't have been given the 20%, he should have been told to grow up and take responsibility for his own actions.
    Hope this makes sense. Rambling a bit, with a customer based interruption half way through.
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    Torvid.

    Lets say I have a machine gun set up that fires bullets down a road whenever a green light is shown. If someone cuts across that green-lighted road (ie. jumping a red light on a road to which it adjuncts) and is brutally shot to pieces - who is at fault?

    1) the RLJer?
    2) the illegal gunman?
    3) bit of both...?

    If you know theres a chance your going to get shot the RLJ. It's not like you don't expect a car to come though a green light at junction. It wasn't some random act of god it was an everyday thing.
    Commuter: Forme Vision Red/Black FCN 4
    Weekender: White/Black - Cube Agree GTC pro FCN 3
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    edited December 2011
    Torvid.

    Lets say I have a machine gun set up that fires bullets down a road whenever a green light is shown. If someone cuts across that green-lighted road (ie. jumping a red light on a road to which it adjuncts) and is brutally shot to pieces - who is at fault?

    1) the RLJer?
    2) the illegal gunman?
    3) bit of both...?


    Ha ha I was about to post almost the exact same thing! Thank the lord Torvid isn't a judge...
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 23,715 Lives Here
    I don't think all RLJers should be shot. But, if you're going to jump a red light, at least have your wits about you.
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    bigmat wrote:
    Torvid.

    Lets say I have a machine gun set up that fires bullets down a road whenever a green light is shown. If someone cuts across that green-lighted road (ie. jumping a red light on a road to which it adjuncts) and is brutally shot to pieces - who is at fault?

    1) the RLJer?
    2) the illegal gunman?
    3) bit of both...?


    Ha ha I was about to post almostthe exact same thing! Thank the lord Torvid isn't a judge...

    Maybe it's my job thats makes me a bit jaded to this but there are times when people get what there asking for and there are times when bad things happen to good people because they slip up once but you know what thats life and you have to pick yourself up and deal with it not look for someone else to blame.
    Commuter: Forme Vision Red/Black FCN 4
    Weekender: White/Black - Cube Agree GTC pro FCN 3
  • clarkey catclarkey cat Posts: 3,641
    If you know theres a chance your going to get shot the RLJ. It's not like you don't expect a car to come though a green light at junction. It wasn't some random act of god it was an everyday thing.

    I quite agree - its an entirely reasonable assumption to assume that cars would be travelling through the green-lighted road within the speed limit. One wasn't. Therefore, although its not quite as random as my machine gun analogy it certainly does fall outside of what the RLJer should be able to reasonably expect. However you are probably more likely to expect cars to be speeding that you are to encounter a RLJer.

    So, the car wasn't expecting (possibly at all) a cyclist to run a red and the cyclist wasn't expecting (but was probably aware there was a risk) a car to be 'gloriously breaking the speed limit'. Which deviation from the expected behavior of road users caused this accident - and how much should the other road user should have expected the other's deviation?
  • Another aspect that I assume is taken into account is the potential damage each party could cause by their actions. A cyclist running a red light is far less likely to cause serious harm to others than a car doing 41 mph+ in a 30 zone. The good thing about this decision is that it acknowledges the cyclist's negligence without wholly absolving the driver of his dangerous driving.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    The machine gun analogy only works if the principal is legal - it isn't about the projectile as such (whether car or bullet) but the speed of that object.

    Ultimately, the cyclist got 20% which I think is about spot on; he did well. Irrespective of the speed of the taxi, he shouldn't have been there. The accident happened because two people met at the same point. Had the taxi been a little further ahead but travelling at the legal speed, the accident would still have happened. The cyclist made it happen.

    Furthermore, if the cyclist had been paying attention, he could have avoided the accident. It wouldn't have mattered if the taxi had been doing 20mph or 50mph, if he'd looked, he could have avoided it. I actually don't think it is reasonable to assume cars always travel at the speed limit. I also don't assume that everyone uses their indicators or stops when the light changes to red. I prefer to look rather than to trust that everyone on the roads is careful and sensible. I'd be daft to think otherwise.

    To double check even on a fresh green is sensible. Not to check when you are running a red is bizarre.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • clarkey catclarkey cat Posts: 3,641
    I actually don't think it is reasonable to assume cars always travel at the speed limit. I also don't assume that everyone uses their indicators or stops when the light changes to red.

    And quite rightly too!
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    Another aspect that I assume is taken into account is the potential damage each party could cause by their actions. A cyclist running a red light is far less likely to cause serious harm to others than a car doing 41 mph+ in a 30 zone. The good thing about this decision is that it acknowledges the cyclist's negligence without wholly absolving the driver of his dangerous driving.

    so it's okay to break the law as long as everyone else is? didn't we have this with the rioters?

    The taxi driver should be done for his admitted dangerous driving the RLJ should be done for that.
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  • jds_1981jds_1981 Posts: 1,858
    Could easily have been a pedestrian/jogger rather than a cyclist crossing in or near to the same place. How do you think the blame would then have been apportioned?
    FCN 9 || FCN 5
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    edited December 2011
    I'd say that the judgement was about as spot-on as you could hope for. For the most part, the actions of the cyclist led to his injury (shot red light, didn't look or brake) but the taxi driver was also breaking the law by speeding.

    What isn't clear to me was the degree of "chance" involved. Could the same accident have occured with a vehicle that was ahead of the taxi's position but travelling at a legal speed (arriving at the impact point therefore at the same time)? Was the cyclist relying on his estimation of what speed cars are doing to take the chance of jumping the red light?

    **Edited to say - Wot Rolf F said ^^^^^^^^^^^**
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • clarkey catclarkey cat Posts: 3,641
    Gallywomack wrote:
    Another aspect that I assume is taken into account is the potential damage each party could cause by their actions. A cyclist running a red light is far less likely to cause serious harm to others than a car doing 41 mph+ in a 30 zone. The good thing about this decision is that it acknowledges the cyclist's negligence without wholly absolving the driver of his dangerous driving.

    so it's okay to break the law as long as everyone else is? didn't we have this with the rioters?

    The taxi driver should be done for his admitted dangerous driving the RLJ should be done for that.




    we're on to the rioters already? Didn't think that would happen until page 5 at least. Fair play though - some enormous jumps in logic and you've saved me about 20 minutes of reading.
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    yeah I'm in a rush today last day after 10 year doing this job and I have a lot to get squared away before I have to fill in my court availablity schedual.
    Commuter: Forme Vision Red/Black FCN 4
    Weekender: White/Black - Cube Agree GTC pro FCN 3
  • phy2sll2phy2sll2 Posts: 680
    jds_1981 wrote:
    Could easily have been a pedestrian/jogger rather than a cyclist crossing in or near to the same place. How do you think the blame would then have been apportioned?

    Yup, was thinking the same thing. Anyone have any examples where damages are reduced because pedestrian starting crossing with flashing green man or something similar?

    Peter, your 'cyclist jumping red light has less serious consequences than car speeding' would be more important in a criminal (as opposed to civil) case, I would have thought?
  • TorvidTorvid Posts: 449
    phy2sll2 wrote:
    jds_1981 wrote:
    Could easily have been a pedestrian/jogger rather than a cyclist crossing in or near to the same place. How do you think the blame would then have been apportioned?

    Yup, was thinking the same thing. Anyone have any examples where damages are reduced because pedestrian starting crossing with flashing green man or something similar?

    Peter, your 'cyclist jumping red light has less serious consequences than car speeding' would be more important in a criminal (as opposed to civil) case, I would have thought?

    the car would still be going when it shouldn't so wouldn't make any difference
    Commuter: Forme Vision Red/Black FCN 4
    Weekender: White/Black - Cube Agree GTC pro FCN 3
  • jds_1981jds_1981 Posts: 1,858
    Torvid wrote:
    phy2sll2 wrote:
    jds_1981 wrote:
    Could easily have been a pedestrian/jogger rather than a cyclist crossing in or near to the same place. How do you think the blame would then have been apportioned?

    Yup, was thinking the same thing. Anyone have any examples where damages are reduced because pedestrian starting crossing with flashing green man or something similar?

    Peter, your 'cyclist jumping red light has less serious consequences than car speeding' would be more important in a criminal (as opposed to civil) case, I would have thought?

    the car would still be going when it shouldn't so wouldn't make any difference

    Point seems to have been modified a bit - it was supposed to be that a pedestrian or jogger can cross when they want. In this case they'd could then have been hit by a speeding car & the running red light/no helmet 'contribution' wouldn't have come into it?
    FCN 9 || FCN 5
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    Torvid wrote:
    The taxi driver should be done for his admitted dangerous driving the RLJ should be done for that.
    Errr....isn't that what happened*?

    * I don't know about the actual punishments, but in terms of apportioning blame and liability. They were both wrong, they were both punished (the driver by paying damages, the cyclist by having 80% of those damages taken away).
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
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