IRL High Court ruled plaintiff was 65% contributorily negligent in a difficult road traffic accident case.

Donohoe -v- Killeen

Hogan J stated that the case was of considerable difficulty to the court, due to the absence of independent third party evidence. Both forensic engineering experts who gave evidence agreed that it was almost impossible to determine by reference to some objective facts – such as, for example, an examination of the collision damage to the vehicles – which of the vehicles collided into the other. 

 

In making his determination, the Judge attempted to determine what the most likely sequence of events was. Given that the Court knew that one of the drivers had broken the lights,and that both vehicles were travelling at modest speed, he stated that this suggested that the driver who broke the lights did so inadvertently.

 

He ruled therefore that the plaintiff who was driving on a complex roundabout with awkward traffic sequences, had just come through an amber light at the second stop and was now facing a third set of traffic lights within the space of about 120m was the most likely one to have broken the lights. He stated however that if the defendant had kept a complete and proper look-out, he would – or, at least, might – have seen the plaintiff’s vehicle approaching and could have used the available few seconds to sound the horn or otherwise take evasive action. In that respect, therefore, there was, objectively speaking, a degree of fault on the part of the defendant, even if the degree of fault attributable to the plaintiff was greater than that applicable to the defendant.

 

The full judgement can be read at:

 

http://www.courts.ie/Judgments.nsf/09859e7a3f34669680256ef3004a27de/3c7a83788105dd8680257b0800439e3a?OpenDocument

 

S.Major, Lacey Solicitors

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