Mr. Justice Barr delivered his judgement on the 31st day of May 2017 in the matter of Duffy v Lyons. The action involving a road traffic accident which took place on 8th September 2014 at the junction of Crumlin Road and Rafters Road, Dublin 12. This High Court case centred around liability and contributory negligence.

The plaintiff stated that he was in the process of making a right-hand turn on his bicycle, he was collided into by the defendant’s car, which was proceeding along Crumlin Road coming in the opposite direction. The plaintiff’s case was, had the defendant been driving with reasonable care, he ought to have seen the plaintiff’s bicycle on the junction and should have avoided the collision.

The defendant (Mr Lyons) case was that the plaintiff emerged suddenly onto his side of the road, from between a line of traffic that was backed up on the opposite side of the road and that he had no chance to avoid the collision.

Mr Justice Barr favoured the evidence given by the defendant because the plaintiff had contributed to his own misfortune. The judge explained, the accident was predominantly caused by the negligence on the part of the plaintiff in failing to yield right of way to the defendant’s vehicle and in failing to keep a proper lookout to his left before crossing onto the far carriageway on Crumlin Road.

The judge found that Mr Duffy was clearly negligent in relation to his own safety in failing to wear a helmet. While the failure to wear a helmet had no causative effect in relation to causation of the accident, it is nevertheless indicative of a somewhat cavalier attitude on the part of the plaintiff as to his own safety. While there was no expert evidence as to the extent to which they can reduce the level of head injuries suffered by a cyclist, Mr Justice Barr was prepared to take judicial notice of the fact that by wearing a cycle helmet, a cyclist can greatly reduce the risk of suffering a serious head injury.

Furthermore, Mr Duffy’s admitted failure to have any lighting on his bicycle on the night in question was relevant to causation of the accident. Mr Justice Barr stated, “when cycling in the city, or in the country during the hours of darkness, a cyclist is obliged under the law to have front and rear lights on his bicycle.”

Mr Justice Barr held that the plaintiff in this case, as a grown man, was highly negligent to cycle from the city centre to his home in Drimnagh without any lights on his bicycle. Thus, failure to have such lighting was highly negligent behaviour on the part of a cyclist.

High Court judgement can be found here:

By Colleen Ward – Trainee Solicitor