Road traffic accidents frequently have more than one cause, but judges are adept at uncovering where responsibility for them lies. A case on point focused on a demolition site hoarding that obstructed sight lines of a stretch of road where a teenager was run over and severely injured.
The temporary chipboard hoarding, which enclosed a site where flats were being demolished, was close to the uncontrolled crossing where the accident occurred. After compensation was sought on the teenager's behalf, a judge had the task of deciding whether the positioning of the hoarding had contributed to the accident.
In ruling on the matter, the judge found that the hoarding was a factor in the accident, in that it reduced sight lines at the crossing from more than 100 metres to about 40 metres. Its presence thus significantly reduced the time span in which the teenager and the driver of the car that struck him could have seen each other.
The driver bore the lion's share – 55 per cent – of the responsibility for the accident as he had been travelling at excessive speed and had failed to keep a proper lookout. The judge, however, found the main contractor engaged in the demolition works 20 per cent liable for the teenager's injuries. A further 10 per cent of the responsibility rested on the company that had designed and coordinated the works.
The value of the teenager's claim had been agreed at £1 million. However, on the basis that he had himself been careless and was 15 per cent responsible for his own misfortune, his damages award was reduced to £850,000.