Inexplicable Accidents Sometimes Happen - High Court Ruling

There are occasionally inexplicable accidents for which no one can be blamed. That was certainly so in one highly unusual case in which, for no apparent reason, a van suddenly caught fire on a trunk road, forcing its passengers to jump for their lives.

One of those who had to leap from the moving van was badly injured and launched proceedings against the vehicle's owner. Despite exhaustive examination of the burnt out vehicle, the cause of the fire remained unknown. However, the man's damages claim was upheld by a judge on the basis that the van had been very poorly maintained and that that was the probable cause of the blaze.

In upholding the owner's appeal against that ruling, the High Court noted that the burden of proving that the fire was caused by a fault in the vehicle rested upon the injured man. Vehicles do not usually burst spontaneously into flames, no matter how badly maintained they might be, and the Court found that no causal link between the condition of the van and the fire had been established on the evidence.

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