Intoxicated Pedestrian v Taxi Driver – Contributory Negligence.
Head injury and subsequent psychological issues.
The injured claimant had spent the afternoon at a function held by his football club, and had then headed towards a night club district with a group of people. The Court found, in relation to the injured claimant, that “It was clear that he had consumed a good deal of alcohol in the course of the evening”
Once he got to the nightclub, he was informed about a cover charge. He decided not to enter the night club, and began searching for a taxi to take his party into the city.
A maxi taxi arrived and the injured claimant asked for a lift into the city. The driver declined and pulled off down the road. The driver then performed a u-turn. In the time it had taken for the driver to perform the u-turn and come back past the night club, the injured claimant had begun walking across the road.
Unfortunately, the taxi driver did not stop or swerve as he passed the injured claimant, and he struck the injured claimant with the front left hand side of his maxi taxi.
The Court was asked to determine whether the driver was entirely labile, or whether some of the blame rested on the injured claimant.
The Court considered the claimant’s level of intoxication and whether that intoxication contributed to the driver hitting him. This is relevant, because if the claimant was intoxicated at the time he was hit, it is presumed that he contributed to his accident. This meant it was up to the claimant to prove that his intoxication did not contribute to the driver failing to keep a proper look out.
The Court found that the driver had a duty to keep a proper lookout, which had nothing to do with the claimant’s level of intoxication. Therefore, the Court did not find that the claimant contributed to the accident just by being intoxicated.
However, in moving onto the road and attempting to hail the taxi in the middle of the night, from the middle of the road, the claimant did bear some responsibility. The Court found that the claimant had shown “a failure to take reasonable care for one’s own safety, and on that basis the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence at common law.”
Ultimately, the Court decided that the driver should bear 80% of the responsibility for the accident, as the duty to keep a proper lookout is paramount in these situations. The injured claimant was 20% responsible.
A finding of contributory negligence requires a Court to ‘discount’ the amount paid to the claimant.
Here the Court assessed the full amount that the plaintiff’s injuries and then reduced that amount by the 20% for contributory negligence.