Contributory Fault of Pedestrians in RTAs

The courts are often asked to decide upon the degree of responsibility that pedestrians should bear when injured in a road traffic accident. Following the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Jackson v Murray ([2015] UKSC 5), the assessment of apportionment of fault will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. There has of course to be fault on the driver in the first place before the contributory argument falls to be considered. That having been established, the Court pointed out that there had to be careful analysis of the respective causative potency (that is to what extent that person actions lead to the accident happening), and the respective blameworthiness of each party. The fact that a car can do much more damage to a person than a person could usually do to a car is a relevant factor. However, any reckless actions by the pedestrian will have a significant bearing.

In the Jackson case, a 13 year old girl had attempted to cross a road, having come out from behind a bus from which she had just alighted. It was held that the driver should have driven with more care, and that the accident may potentially have been avoided had he done so. However, as the pedestrian had run out in from of the car, the trail judge initially indicated that the pedestrian was 90% to blame. This was reduced to 50% by the Supreme Court.

The Scottish Courts have again considered these issues in the case of McCreery v Letson ([2015] CSOH 153). On this occasion, an adult was attempting to cross the road, once again behind a bus from which she had just alighted. After consideration of all the material facts, it was again decided that the driver was primarily as fault for failing to take more care (though this may not have avoided the accident). Compensation was reduced by 50% to reflect the blameworthiness of the pedestrian.

Accordingly, if a pedestrian is injured while cross a road, there will always be strong arguments to be made in support of a claim for compensation, but the decree of deduction will depend on how careless that person has been.

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