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Houghton v Stannard, High Court, 29 October 2003

4 November 2003
The issues

Road Traffic Accident – parked car – obstruction to the highway.

The facts

The Claimant had parked on the inside lane of the A18 on the 23rd December 1998. There was no hard shoulder. He put his hazard lights on. The Claimant suffered from retrograde amnesia and could not remember the accident at Trial. In other proceedings, the Claimant had however stated that shortly before the accident occurred he had difficulties with the car and that he had continued to drive it for a little while before it broke down.

The Defendant admitted that he had seen the Claimant’s vehicle 200 yards away but thought it was moving. He had overtaken other vehicles and returned to the inside lane but then realised that the Claimant’s vehicle was not moving and he had hit it. The Defendant alleged that the Claimant was contributorily negligent in that he had failed to park off road, had stayed in the vehicle rather than walked away from it, and had driven the car when he knew there was a risk of it breaking down.

The decision

1. The Claimant had not continued to drive his car unreasonably. The Claimant’s vehicle was clearly visible and had hazard lights on. There was no evidence that the Claimant could have done anything else. It was not established that the Claimant had got back into the car for any other reason than to try to start it. There was no evidence as to how long he had been in the car before the collision occurred.

2. It was not unreasonable for the Claimant to have continued driving his vehicle.

Judgment for the Claimant in full.

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