Road traffic accidents caused by obstacles in the road

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

  • Road traffic accidents caused by obstacles in the road
  • Animals straying onto the highway
  • Poorly-maintained road
  • Ice and snow
  • Flooding
  • Vegetation
  • Obstructions

Road traffic accidents caused by obstacles in the road

There are a number of commonly encountered obstacles on the highway:

  1. animals

  2. poorly-maintained roads

  3. ice and snow

  4. flooding

  5. vegetation

  6. obstructions

Animals straying onto the highway

Most cases involving animals straying onto the highway will be decided under the law of negligence. However, some cases have succeeded under the Animals Act 1971 (AA 1971). Where an accident occurs between a vehicle and a farm animal, there can often be serious consequences; given the size and unpredictable nature of the animal involved.

In common law, the owner or person responsible for the animal will be held liable if, due to the owner's negligence, the animal causes damage.

There is a duty on farmers who graze cattle in a field next to a road to take all reasonable precautions to prevent their escape in order to avoid causing danger to road users.

The ordinary principles of negligence apply to this duty. In deciding what precautions are reasonable, the court will weigh the risk of an accident and its likely severity against the cost of preventing that risk from happening. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

There is a defence where the animals have strayed from certain types of unfenced land. Where the animals come from common land, a town or a village green or land situated in an area where fencing is not

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