Success for David Sanderson, instructed by Penningtons Manches Cooper, in Camilla Bonsor v Bio Collectors [2020] EWHC 669 (QB).

Camilla Bonsor v Bio Collectors [2020] EWHC 669 (QB)

David Sanderson successfully represented the Claimant at a trial on liability before Peter Marquand, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge.

The claim arose from a road traffic collision that occurred on 10 August 2015, at the junction of Kensington High Street and Young Street, London W8.  Ms Bonsor was walking west on the southern pavement of Kensington High Street, intending to cross Young Street on her way to Whole Foods, in the old Barkers Department Store building.  Mr Rodrigues was driving the Defendant’s lorry west along Kensington High Street, behind Ms Bonsor.  He was intending to turn left into Young Street.  As Ms Bonsor crossed the mouth of Young Street, Mr Rodrigues drew level with her and turned left, hitting her when she was in the centre of the crossing.  The Claimant suffered life-changing injuries.

The Defendant, represented by Simon Browne QC, denied liability.  It was argued that the lorry was indicating prior to the junction and that its intention to turn left was there to be seen and heard.  In seeking to excuse the actions of the driver, particular reliance was placed on the agreed evidence of the accident reconstruction experts that, over the final 4 to 4.5 seconds before impact, beginning when the Claimant was still 2 m from Young St and ending at impact, the Claimant probably remained concealed within the driver’s blind spot.

Primary liability was denied.  In the alternative, it was alleged that the Claimant was contributory negligent, for failing to follow the Green Cross Code, for failing see or hear the lorry before impact and for wearing earphones.

The judge found that, on his approach to the junction, the lorry driver was forced to slow down behind the taxi ahead of him, when the taxi stopped immediately east of the junction.  After the taxi moved off, and from a point about 6 m east of the kerb line of Young Street, the lorry driver began a gradual acceleration, that continued until after the impact.  The lorry drew level with the Claimant after she had reached about half way across the east side of Young St.  The lorry driver failed to indicate left until late into the manoeuvre.

The judge found the Defendant liable.  To comply with rule 170 of the Highway Code and the DSA Guidance to lorry drivers, the driver was obliged to take reasonable steps to check whether a pedestrian was concealed within his blind spot.  He should have indicated in good time and should have paused before he completed his left turn, in order to check for pedestrians in his blind spot.  Had he done so, he would have seen the Claimant and the collision would have been avoided.

The judge rejected the allegations of contributory negligence. He found that the Claimant was not wearing earphones and that she had looked to her right before she stepped from the kerb.  At that time, the lorry was still behind her and it would have appeared that it was going straight on.