Practice and Procedure

PARKER v NEIL (2003)

PUBLISHED November 7, 2003

The defendant had not acted unreasonably in failing to undertake an immediate evasive manoeuvre upon seeing an obstacle on a rural road that subsequently turned out to be a person.Claim for damages for personal injury resulting from a road traffic accident. The defendant ('N') was driving his vehicle on a rural road in Essex on 2 April 1999 when he struck the claimant ('P'). At the time of the collision P was lying prostrate on the road and N ran over him. When he initially saw P on the road he assumed that he was an empty bag and did not take any evasive action other than taking his foot off the accelerator. On realising that what he saw was a person, N braked but was unable to avoid a collision. P submitted that N was negligent, as he should have anticipated that an obstacle on the road could be a person and should have taken immediate evasive action.HELD: N was not negligent in failing to stop before he ran over P. On the evidence P was not visible to N as a person before the time at which N had applied his brakes. Further, N was driving on a rural road where it was unlikely that a person would be lying prone. In the circumstances it was not unreasonable for N not to have taken immediate evasive action upon seeing an obstacle on the road.Judgment accordingly.