Party Guest Injured in Rickshaw Ride 'Put Herself at Obvious Risk'

Parties are no fun unless guests are in high spirits, but those who place themselves in obviously risky situations cannot expect to be compensated for any injuries they suffer. A judge made that point in the case of a young woman who came to grief following a ball at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

The woman, who was in her 20s, had been invited to the Oriental-themed black-tie event by an officer cadet. After the ball ended, at around midnight, she accepted a lift around the parade ground in a rickshaw that had been hired as a prop. The vehicle was driven by another guest whom she had never met. It tipped over backwards and she was thrown to the ground, suffering a fractured skull.

After she launched proceedings against the academy, she testified that she believed the rickshaw had been laid on for guests to ride as part of the entertainment. The driver, who she thought was an officer cadet, seemed perfectly capable of negotiating it around the parade ground. It would have been a simple matter to immobilise the rickshaw or put in place signs warning against its use.

Ruling on the matter, a judge noted that she was only under the influence of alcohol to a limited extent at the time. She made a genuine and informed choice to get into the rickshaw and allowed herself to be driven by a complete stranger. There was no reasonable basis for any assumption on her part that a ride in the rickshaw was part of the evening's entertainment or that it was safe for her to do so.

In the knowledge that the ball was over, she took a conscious decision to get into the rickshaw. It would have been obvious, on a sober assessment of the situation, that it was an inherently risky enterprise. The risk that eventuated was precisely that which should have been obvious to her. Her claim was dismissed.

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