PLAINTIFF WHO FAILED TO DRIVE CAREFULLY HAD PERSONAL INJURY CLAM AGAINST LORRY DRIVER DISMISSED BEFORE CARLOW CIRCUIT COURT
Smithwicks Solicitors recently succeeded in having a personal injury claim brought by a Plaintiff against a lorry driver, dismissed, with an order for costs against the Plaintiff, in the event of an appeal.
The Circuit Court case involved an accident on 21st October 2016 in which the Plaintiff drove her motor vehicle from a minor road onto a main road, with the intention of turning left, but in doing so, she took the junction very wide and collided into the trailer of a lorry.
The lorry driver’s evidence was that he was driving his truck from Carlow to Ballinabranna. He was on a relatively narrow road and as he approached a junction where he intended to turn right, he stopped his lorry, as he always did, because there was a blind spot for approaching traffic. There were bollards on the road to his left-hand side which meant that the right-hand wheels of his lorry were one foot over the centre continuous line of the road. He stated that as he was about to commence the turning maneuver with caution, the Plaintiff emerged from the minor road. She intended turning left at the junction onto the main road but in doing so, she did not appear to have seen his vehicle and collided into the trailer of the lorry.
The Plaintiff and a back-seat passenger in her vehicle issued personal injury proceedings against the lorry driver.
During the hearing of the case on 14 November 2019, Mr Justice O’Donoghue sitting at Carlow Circuit Court, heard evidence from the Plaintiff, the lorry driver, the investigating Garda and both sides engineering experts.
In finding against the Plaintiff, and dismissing her claim, the Court noted that the Plaintiff knew the junction where the accident occurred very well and that the photographic evidence clearly demonstrated that if one stopped at the stop line at the junction and looked right and left, one would have had a very good vision of the road to the left. The Court noted that despite all that, the Plaintiff’s evidence was to the effect that she did not see the very large truck until she impacted with it and that contention did not appear to make any sense in this case.
The Court found that the defendant appeared to be a careful driver and had given a clear account of what had happened and that the bollards that were on his side of the road forced him out about one foot over the white line onto the opposite side of the road.
The Court held that there was a higher onus on the Plaintiff in this case where she was manoeuvring her vehicle from a minor road onto a main road but that equally the lorry driver had to be careful and conscious not to interfere with oncoming traffic and make his manoeuvre safely.
The Court preferred the evidence of the lorry driver and held that his account of events was validated by the evidence which supported that the Plaintiff had emerged without taking proper precautions from a minor road onto a main road and it dismissed her claim.
This case highlights that litigants who pursue claims for personal injury will be tested on their evidence and credibility is key.