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Car Accident (Gotcha?)

The Green Cross Code” is for pedestrians.

The equivalent for motorists is more extensive. However, any amount of rules will be wasted if a driver has a defective attitude to his/her “rights”.

Long before the motorcar appeared, the roads were used by pedestrians and animals, particularly horses. It is within living memory that a large cattle market thrived at the top of Prussia St. on the North Circular Road in Dublin and the cattle were herded down the NCR to the docks for shipment to, usually, the UK. All that is gone now.

What motoring “entitlements” could be asserted in circumstances like that?

With the departure of the animals, only pedestrians remain to hinder the motorist. Pedestrians, being more malleable and responsive than animals, avoid offering themselves as a hindrance, for good reason.

Who has not been challenged by a motorist for having the temerity to walk across a T-junction, obstructing a turning car? Most pedestrians anticipate the car and yield to it, although the right of way generally rests with the pedestrian.

What hope, then, that a motorist would anticipate a momentary error by a pedestrian in a “refuge” on a dual carriageway? The self-same driver is, after all, in the “fast” lane as he/she zips past within inches of the pedestrian.

The fact is, a driver is obliged to drive in such a manner and at such a speed as to avoid a pedestrian who MAY step out onto the roadway. That implies that it is an obligation to SEE the pedestrian and, probably, to LOOK AT the pedestrian.

We see much of this in McDermott v McCormack [2010] IEHC 50.

The Defendant driver admitted he did not see the Plaintiff pedestrian. The Plaintiff was an admirable witness, given that he was thrown into the air by the Defendant’s taxi. The Defendant gave evidence of the Plaintiff’s head hitting his windscreen. The judgment does not record the Plaintiff’s evidence in detail on the point, but if it was tendered it would probably have been in terms of the Defendant’s windscreen hitting him on the head.

The case looks like one of excess of ambition by the defence. They were in possession of a report from a hospital showing the Plaintiff had been very drunk when the accident happened, but, as the judge remarked;

“…He was an alcoholic. Unfortunately, he still is. That does not disentitle him to damages.”

In the event the court found (without reference to the Green Cross Code, it not being law), the Plaintiff was 50% responsible for the accident (there was no crossing point on the road at the point of the accident) and reduced the damages from €266,758 to €133,379.

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