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LTL 12/10/2009, Queen's Bench Division - Paul Rose QC
A motorcyclist who had overtaken another motorcyclist shortly before a bend had created an emergency that resulted in his crossing the path that the other motorcyclist would have taken, effectively forcing him off the road. Therefore, the overtaking motorcyclist was liable for the road traffic accident.
The court was required to determine, as a preliminary issue, liability for a road traffic accident involving the claimant (C) and the first defendant (D).
C and D had been out on their motorbikes. C led the way, as he knew the road and D did not. At one point the road curved to the right, as it was joined by a side road. Immediately prior to that junction, there was a slight left curve, a slight right curve, and then a straight stretch of road. At some point along the straight stretch, D overtook C. As they approached the right hand bend, D realised that he was going too fast. He panicked and applied emergency braking. C's brakes locked and he left the road. The court had to determine whether or not C would have successfully negotiated the corner at the speed he was travelling, regardless of the presence of D.
HELD: D overtook C shortly before the corner. C was not following D too closely; the gap between them was so small because D had just overtaken him. Therefore, C was not contributorily negligent. D created an emergency which resulted in his crossing the path that C would have taken had he been able to do so. D was travelling faster than C prior to braking. On the balance of probabilities, C would have negotiated the bend safely but for D's panic application of his brakes, which then distracted and frightened C. D then passed across the path which C would have taken, and he was, in effect, forced off the road. D caused C's injuries, as C would not have left the road in any event.
Preliminary issue determined in favour of claimant.
Counsel for the claimant: Paul Rose QC.
Solicitors for the claimant: McCool Patterson Hemsi.