Road traffic accident between a lorry and a motorcyclist on a country lane. The Recorder at first instance had imposed too high a standard of care on the lorry driver in finding primary liability against him.
A collision arose between the Claimant motorcyclist and a lorry, driven by the Defendant’s employee, on a country lane.
The lane although narrow, did have white lines down the centre. The collision arose on a bend in the lane; the C motorcyclist’s evidence was that the cab of the lorry was encroaching slightly onto his own side of the lane, whilst the front wheel was on the white line.
Speed was not a factor.
The C conceded that he was also partly at fault for driving his motorcycle too far to the right of his lane, whereas he should have perhaps driven in the middle of his lane.
At first instant the Recorder found in C’s favour because the lorry encroaching into C’s lane was causative of the accident. He did however make a finding of 50% contributory negligence against C because as a professional driver he should have kept more to the left, when a large vehicle was approaching.
D appealed on the grounds that the Recorder had been wrong to find the lorry driver (their employee) negligent. They submitted that given the relative size of the lorry and the motorbike, it was a counsel of perfection to hold that D’s employee should have driven the lorry even closer to the side of the road, which could have created risks in itself to him.
Further, if the C had driven his motorbike in the centre of his lane, then the accident could have been avoided.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and C’s case was dismissed.
The Court of Appeal considered the standard of care to be applied in road traffic accidents. The test is one of reasonable care. To impose a counsel of perfection upon the D lorry driver was too high a standard to apply.
The Court had to consider the circumstances of the accident; both drivers were faced with a narrow country lane. The D driver could not be criticised for driving slightly away from the side of the road; nor was he negligent for straying onto the oncoming side of the road.
On the other hand, C could have manoeuvred his motorbike more to the left of his lane, thus preventing the collision.