A case from 2013 highlights the issue of liability around the pedestrian crossing.
A woman commenced crossing very busy Parramatta Road near Sydney University against a red flashing light. She was struck by a taxi travelling through the crossing just after the light facing him turned from red to green. No liability was found against the taxi driver.
Of most interest in the case is that the Court of Appeal set out some of the important cases and principles about the special care expected from the drivers of motor vehicles when it comes to possible conflict with pedestrians. Some of these are:-
- A driver is entitled to assume that others will observe the rules of the road. However, that does not mean that a driver may proceed at any pace he or she chooses or with complete indifference as to the possibility of a pedestrian emerging from somewhere as a result of an accident, miscalculation, ignorance or recklessness;
- One must bear in mind the extent of the damage that may be done by a driver to a pedestrian, the degree of likelihood that a pedestrian will suddenly come into the path of an oncoming vehicle, the consequent extent of the precaution that a driver must take against that eventuality and the extent of what a driver is able to do when confronted with such a danger. The damage that a driver may do to a pedestrian is great and that is an important matter when deciding what a driver must do. The inconvenience of driving more slowly is to be measured against what may be done to a pedestrian if the driver’s estimate of the risk is wrong;
- A driver may be guilty of breach of duty if it is established that, although driving at a pace, and in a place, that is lawful, the driver has nevertheless been put on notice, by conduct that the motorist saw or should have seen, that a pedestrian might act in such a way as to put that pedestrian in danger from the motorist;
- Before there should be a finding of breach of duty, the evidence must disclose some factor that would cause a motorist to reduce his or her speed below the applicable speed limit, particularly if he or she is keeping a proper lookout.
Much has been said in Queensland about the vulnerability of cyclists, resulting in legislative amendments to the Road Rules. It could be argued that the same principles are likely to be applied to motor vehicle drivers’ interactions with cyclists as well as to pedestrians.
You can read more about the case here.
Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).