Drunkenness no basis for avoiding contributory negligence, Court of Appeal rules

The drunkenness of a passenger looking for damages for accidents sustained in a automobile crash ‘will not avoid a finding of contributory negligence’ the place the claimant ought to have appreciated that the motive force was too drunk to drive safely, the Court of Appeal has dominated.

Within the ‘very sad’ case of Campbell v Advantage Insurance Company Ltd, the Court of Appeal thought-about ‘whether a claimant can rely on his own drunkenness and consequential lack of insight’ to keep away from a discovering of contributory negligence or a discount within the apportionment of their accountability.

Lyum Campbell had been consuming at a nightclub with pals in 2016 earlier than Dean Brown tried to drive them dwelling within the early hours. Their automobile collided with a lorry and Campbell, who was within the again seat with out a seatbelt, sustained catastrophic mind injury whereas Brown was killed.

Legal responsibility was admitted however Brown’s insurer, Benefit, contended that Campbell’s damages needs to be diminished for contributory negligence as a result of he was not carrying a seat belt and had allowed himself to be pushed by Brown, when Brown had clearly been consuming to extra.

The Excessive Court held that, though Campbell was not carrying a seatbelt, it had no causative impact. Nevertheless, Decide Graham Robinson QC discovered Campbell ought to have appreciated that Brown had drunk an excessive amount of alcohol to be match to drive and assessed Campbell’s contributory negligence at 20%.

Campbell appealed in opposition to the discovering of contributory negligence and the discount of damages by 20%, arguing the decide wrongly utilized an goal check when assessing any contributory fault.

Dismissing the attraction this week, Lord Justice Dingemans stated the check of whether or not an individual has breached an obligation of care in negligence is an goal customary, which is often that of ‘a reasonable and prudent man’.

The decide added that, if that’s the goal customary utilized to Brown when judging his driving, ‘it is not obvious why a different standard should be applied’ to Campbell. The actual fact Campbell wouldn’t have agreed to be pushed by Brown if he had been sober ‘does not assist him if an objective standard is applied’, Dingemans stated.

As an affordable, prudent and competent man in Campbell’s place would have appreciated that Brown had drunk an excessive amount of to drive safely, the discovering of contributory negligence was correctly made, Dingemans held.

In a concurring judgment, Lord Justice Underhill added: ‘It is clear that the law in this jurisdiction has come down against treating the fact that the claimant is drunk as a characteristic that can be taken into account in deciding whether he or she took reasonable care for their own safety.’

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