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Pillion Passenger Claim Against Negligent Driver Reduced On

Woman using mobile phone while driving
23rd June 2015

An “illegal” bike passenger who suffered serious injuries in a collision with a negligently driven minibus has lost part of his damages claim at the Court of Appeal.

Two teenage boys were joy-riding a stolen trial bike at excessive speed on a public cycle-path. Neither the driver nor the passenger possessed a driving licence, insurance or a crash helmet at the time of the collision and the bike was not suitable for carrying a passenger.

The trial bike, which collided with the minibus as it turned from the road across the path of the bike into a local community centre, was found to have been driven “without due care and attention.”

At the initial hearing, the court dismissed the bike passenger’s claim of compensation against both the bike driver and minibus driver. The court found that the claimant was jointly responsible for dangerous driving of the bike and therefore, contributed to the negligence that caused his injuries.

Illegal act of involvement

At the Court of Appeal, it was also found that the passenger’s claim against the driver of the motorcycle should fail because it arose in connection with his own ‘illegal’ act of involvement with dangerously driving the bike. However, the claim against the minibus driver was treated differently.

The court pointed out that the claimant’s injuries were caused separately by both the negligence of the bike driver and the minibus driver. While the minibus driver was found to be negligently driving, it could not be said that without the passenger’s participation in “wrong-doing” with the bike driver the accident would not have occurred.

Consequently, the passenger’s claim for negligence against the minibus driver was upheld. But the court instructed that any recoverable damages were to be reduced in accordance with the principles of contributory negligence. The reduction would reflect the fault and responsibility of the claimant for allowing himself to be a pillion passenger on the bike.

A previous deduction of 15 per cent in compensation imposed because the claimant was not wearing a helmet was increased to a total of 65 per cent. The bike passenger was thus, only able to recover 35 per cent of damages from the minibus driver.