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Malasi v Attmed, High Court, 5 December 2011

6 January 2012
The issues

Cyclist – contributory negligence – motorist breaking speed limit – cyclist going through red light – apportionments of liability – contributory negligence

The facts

The defendant was a taxi driver. Early one morning having picked up a fare, he went through a t-junction. The junction was traffic light controlled and he had a green light in his favour. The claimant was on his bicycle and coming from the left collided with the front left hand section of the taxi. He was wearing dark clothing and not wearing a helmet or any high visibility vest. He also went through a red light across the junction. The taxi had been travelling between 40/50 mph. There was a speed limit of 30mph.

The decision

If the claimant had stopped at the traffic light there would have been no accident. Even if, going through the red light he had seen the taxi and taken even modest steps to slow, the collision would have been avoided. Equally there would have been no collision if the defendant had not been driving at 40/50 mph. Whilst it was technically correct that travelling at a high speed was not itself negligent, motorist had to have regard to fixed speed limits which were indicators of the likelihood of accidents and the nature of hazards. Driving at the speed he did was causative of the collision and of the claimant’s injuries. However, the claimant’s actions were substantially causative as well. It was not relevant that the claimant failed to wear a high visibility vest and had been wearing dark clothing. In terms of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945, the accident had three causative factors; the claimant went through a red light; the claimant failed to apply his brakes in time; the defendant was going at an excessive speed. Without any one of these factors there would have been no accident. The balance of fault lay heavily with the claimant. Contributory negligence will be put at 80%.

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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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