Has the Court of Appeal got it wrong this time with this Claim?

Gul v Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) The Court of Appeal has upheld that a 13-year-old child was 10% contributorily negligent for serious injury he suffered after being hit by a speeding car when crossing the road, the child was not able to get across the road in time.

The judge said a reasonable 13-year-old should have appreciated that the First Defendant’s vehicle was travelling much faster than it should have been and was a potential source of danger where he could not cross the road in time. The Claimant should therefore have waited for more time before crossing the road, or alternatively, having started to cross should have kept his eye on the vehicle allowing him to hurry up if necessary.

The pedestrian was crossing a residential road in London when he was hit by the car (uninsured) who was fleeing the police. The Claimant sustained life changing serious injuries. The speed limit on the road was 20mph, driver was travelling at about 40 mph at the time of impact. Had he at the time been driving at 20mph, the Claimant would have had sufficient time to cross safely. The Judge HHJ Gargan said the school child should have looked to his right before the leaving the pavement and waited for it to pass and all the time could have kept his eye on the speeding car, and thus hurried across the road if necessary. This “culpable misjudgement” made the school child partly at fault.

The Claimant appealed this decision, arguing The judge should not have found the Claimant shared responsibility for the accident, and was wrong to make a reduction in damages where serious injury resulted.

This appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal confirming the school child was partly responsible and HHJ Gargan was correct in his decision.

Claim Today Comment

The Courts generally recognise that children do not have the same ability to perceive danger as adults, and thus where the child cannot be expected to fully understand the dangers of the road, contributory negligent may not usually attach. However here the Court is unfairly placing a higher duty of care on a young teenager, when children develop and mature at a varying pace, we all know some teenagers who are very mature and others who can still be child like, thus simply using age and onset of teenage years to attach culpability is inherently wrong. 

What is your view?

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