The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal in a case in which a motorcyclist was held to be 50% at fault for a high speed crash involving two other vehicles which left his girlfriend severely injured.
Mr Bruce was riding a motorbike and his girlfriend, the Claimant, was a passenger. He crashed head on into a car in Fritton, Norfolk. Mr Bruce was travelling round a bend when he hit the car, which was partially on the wrong side of the road while slowly overtaking a stationary vehicle. Mr Bruce tried to stop but lost control. He suffered serious injuries and his girlfriend suffered a severe head injury.
The Third Defendant had broken down. He had coasted to a stop on the nearside of the carriageway but without pulling over onto the verge and not in a safe position. He had pulled over on a bend.
The Second Defendant was immediately behind the Third Defendant. It was recognised at Trial that the Second Defendant had been faced with a difficult decision when she had to decide whether it was safe to pass the stationary Third Defendant. She had carried out the manoeuvre as slowly as possible but she had continued in the offside carriageway for longer than was deemed necessary before beginning to pull in.
At first instance the Judge considered that Mr Bruce had been riding too fast and held him 50% at fault, while the remainder of the blame was apportioned at 20% to the Second Defendant and 30% to the Third Defendant.
The Judge found that although Mr Bruce was travelling within the speed limit, he was going at such a speed that he could not see as far as it would take him to stop the bike.
In early November Mr Bruce was granted permission for a full appeal, to include the apportionment of blame, on the basis that even if he must shoulder some of the blame, it was wrong to make him 50% liable as he was travelling at the right driving line around the corner, within the speed limit and came into collision with a vehicle that was effectively blocking his path.
The Judge placed weight on the fact that the Second Defendant could have returned to the correct side of the carriageway sooner than she did.
The couple had recently got engaged and a finding that Mr Bruce was substantially to blame for the accident which injured the Claimant would obviously impact on how her care is funded. The Judge indicated that there would have to be discussions regarding the extent to which the cost of the Claimant’s care would be recoverable.