Road accidents happen in seconds and those who are injured often have little or no memory of what happened. However, as a High Court case showed, that should not discourage victims from seeking legal advice with a view to fair compensation.
The case concerned a disabled man who was struck by a motorbike whilst crossing a trunk road. He suffered a serious brain injury in the collision, had no recollection of the accident and was unable to give evidence. The only eyewitnesses to what happened were the motorcyclist and a delivery van driver who had parked nearby.
After solicitors launched proceedings on the man's behalf, the Court found that the motorcyclist was a very unimpressive witness. He was evasive and struck the Court as someone who would take any opportunity to minimise his responsibility for the accident. By contrast, the van driver and the man's brother, who came upon the accident scene soon after the collision, were patently honest.
The Court found that the inexperienced motorcyclist had been riding at the speed limit as the road passed through a rural village. He showed little understanding that that limit was a maximum speed, not a target. He had expected the pedestrian to avoid him, rather than the other way around. There was evidence that he had accelerated to get himself out of trouble, rather than swerving or applying his brakes.
Due to his existing disabilities, the pedestrian's progress across the road may have been somewhat clumsy and slow. However, he was perfectly able to make his own way in the world and the Court was of the view that he was 15 per cent responsible for the accident in failing to keep a proper lookout for oncoming traffic. However, the lion's share of the blame, 85 per cent, fell on the motorcyclist. Even after a 15 per cent reduction, the man's compensation award, which has yet to be assessed, is bound to be very substantial.