Proving negligence in road traffic claims
Proving negligence in road traffic claims

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Proving negligence in road traffic claims
  • The Highway Code
  • Statutory duties
  • Relevant motoring convictions
  • Res ipsa loquitur

The question of whether a road user has failed to drive with reasonable care is fact sensitive.

Evidence of negligence may be gleaned from the following sources:

  1. the Highway Code

  2. statutory duties

  3. relevant motoring convictions

  4. Driving Standards Agency (DSA) driving manuals and other specialist publications

In addition, there are certain cases where the circumstances themselves imply negligence. In such cases, the principle of res ipsa loquitur ('the thing speaks for itself') may apply.

The Highway Code

In principle, a breach of the Highway Code may be relied upon as tending to establish or negate any liability that is in question in proceedings.

In practice, if a party fails to comply with the provisions of the Highway Code, it is likely that the court will conclude that there has been a breach of the duty of care. This is for good reason: the Highway Code is accepted good practice and represents the accumulation of many years' experience since it was first published in 1931.

It is still necessary, however, to establish that the particular breach was causative, ie that it contributed to the accident.

In Goad it was held:

'A failure to observe the Highway Code might be evidence of negligence causing or contributing to

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