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Watson v Skuse, Court of Appeal

23 July 2001
The issues

Road Traffic Accident – Pedestrians – Pedestrian Crossing – “Foolish Claimant”

The facts

The Claimant had been drinking at a pub alongside a three-lane road. The near side land was closed and cordoned off. The Defendant was driving a lorry and was stationary at traffic lights where there was a Pelican Crossing for pedestrians. The crossing was marked with road studs. The Claimant began to cross the road checking only that the traffic light was red and not checking whether the pedestrian light was green. He did not walk between the studs provided and was close to the traffic. As the lights changed to green the Defendant checked his mirrors and set off not realising that the Claimant was directly in front of his lorry.

He knocked the Claimant over causing him serious injuries. In the Birmingham County Court the Claimant succeeded to the extent of 50%.

Both sides appealed.

The decision

The Judges findings were unclear and ambiguous. They would not be disturbed. The driver of a vehicle owed a duty of care to other road users including pedestrians and had to exercise a particularly high standard in respect of the young, the inform and “foolish people”.

Had the lorry driver looked to his left earlier, he would probably have seen the Claimant.

However, 50% was not appropriate. The accident was caused primarily because of the Claimant’s own folly. He had crossed at the wrong place and should have waited for the light to go green. The Court was particularly interested with the Claimant’s evidence to the effect that he felt it “unnecessary to start looking at pedestrian lights at the age of 49″. Accordingly apportionment of blame would be amended 80% in respect of the Claimant’s negligence and 20% in respect of the Defendant.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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