0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

Eagle v Chambers, Court of Appeal, 24 July 2003

29 July 2003
The issues

Road traffic – pedestrian – contributory negligence.

The facts

The Claimant then aged 17 was run over by the Defendant’s car on the 22nd June 1989. The accident took place on the southbound carriageway of Marine Parade Great Yarmouth. Marine Parade is a dual carriageway with a 30mph limit, with two rows of parking spaces between the two carriageways. The southbound carriageway was divided into 2 by a broken white line. The accident took place at 11.30pm. The weather was fine. The street lighting was good. The road was virtually straight. The Claimant was seen walking in the middle of the southbound carriageway and at the time of the accident in the offside lane. Two cars had seen her and avoided her. The first had stopped further down the road and the passenger had gone back to try and persuade the Claimant to get off the road. So had another witness who had been told to Îfuck off’. The Claimant was described as being in an emotional state. The Defendant’s car hit her causing her serious injuries. The Defendant was driving at about 30-35 mph. He failed a road-side breath test but at the police station was found to be 4 micro grams below the limit although he accepted he had taken enough alcohol to impair his driving abilities. The High Court Judge found for the Claimant on the basis that had the Defendant been exercising the standard of care of a reasonable driver he would have seen the Claimant earlier and avoided her. The Judgment was subject to a finding of 60% contributory negligence. The Claimant appealed.

The decision

1. There were two aspects to apportioning responsibility between the Claimant and the Defendant namely:

a. Respective causative potency of what each party has done and

b. Their respective blameworthiness (Davies v Swan Motor Car Limited [1949] approved by the House of Lords in Fitzgerald v Lane [1989]

2. The driver’s conduct was much more causatively potent than that of the Claimant. The road was well lit and near-straight. There was little traffic and nothing to obstruct the driver’s view. The road was not an unrestricted dual carriageway but a restricted seafront road in a seaside resort in early summer. The drivers had to be on the look-out for pedestrians. The longer someone was in the road the easier it ought to be to see them especially if they were wearing light coloured clothing. Although there was evidence that the Claimant had been wandering or unsteady there was none that she had staggered or changed direction suddenly. There was nothing to prevent the driver avoiding her.

3. However the Claimant’s carelessness was also blameworthy and sufficiently blameworthy to justify a finding of contributory negligence. She had put herself at risk. She had ignored warnings from people who had tried to persuade her to come off the road.

4. However in terms of blameworthiness the driver should have known that he had had enough drink to affect his driving abilities; he was driving at a speed slightly above the maximum permitted speed on a road where he should have known that particular care should be taken to avoid pedestrians; he failed to see the Claimant until the last moment and took no action to avoid her.

5. The Judge was plainly wrong to hold the Claimant more responsible than the Defendant. The Court had consistently imposed upon drivers of cars a high burden to reflect the fact that cars were potentially dangerous weapons. The finding of 60% contributory negligence will be set aside and the finding of 40% substituted.

training and events

4Feb

Insurer Insight event London office

Developed for insurers, this exclusive series of events will provide you with operational and practical insights from across the legal spectrum.

View event

focus on...

Legal updates

Insurance Product Value and the duty to act in the best interests of customers: risks from intermediary remuneration

On 19 November 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) published “Finalised guidance” (FG19/5) for “insurance product manufacturers and distributors”.

View

Legal updates

Financial Services – ‘Duty of Care’ Bill: consumer protection or damp squib?

The Financial Services Duty of Care Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced into the House of Lords in October 2019 and had its second reading on 9 January 2020.

View

Legal updates

Noise-induced hearing loss claims – documentation and the expert engineer

Guest writer, Finch Consulting Senior Consultant Teli Chinelis applies his expertise in preparing engineering reports in relation to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims to explain information that is required from the claimant and information that is required and is advisable to be retained by employers, in order to ensure that claims can be fairly represented.

View

Legal updates

SRA Standards and Regulations November 2019

On Monday 25 November the 2011 SRA Handbook is replaced by the 2019 SRA Standards and Regulations (often referred to as STARS).This is the 26th version of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors.

View

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.

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up