DRIVER'S PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY IN ACCIDENT INVOLVING CYCLIST
The Court of Appeal has reversed a High Court decision and placed primary responsibility for an accident on a driver in a case involving a plaintiff cyclist travelling on a foot path and a driver exiting a car park.- Case  IECA 10.
The High Court held the plaintiff 85% liable and the driver 15% liable. The Court of Appeal allowed the plaintiff’s appeal and held the plaintiff 60% liable and the driver 40%.
The Court did not disturb the award of damages assessed by the High Court
Ms. Justice Irvine held:
“26. Firstly, at common law the driver of a motor vehicle intending to drive across a public footpath is obliged to take reasonable care to ensure that in doing so he / she will avoid causing injury to anyone who might foreseeably be on it. It goes without saying that it is foreseeable that a driver who emerges onto a footpath without looking in both directions immediately prior to so doing may injure or possibly kill someone.
27. While cycling on a footpath is prohibited as per the Regulations already referred to, as the trial judge observed in the course of his judgment, it is a fact of life that people, for a wide range of reasons, end up cycling on the footpath. Young children regularly ride their bicycles or scooters along footpaths and the motorist intending to drive across a footpath must protect against the possibility that someone might be cycling towards them.
28. For those members of the public who use footpaths the motor vehicle is a dangerous machine. Its capacity to inflict gross or even fatal injuries while travelling at even modest speed is known and understood by all adults. The pedestrian, the jogger, the child in the buggy and the cyclist do not have the protection enjoyed by the motorist sitting inside the body of the car. That is not to say that cyclists cannot cause serious or even fatal injuries to pedestrians. They can and do, and it is for this reason they are burdened with precisely the same common law duty of care that which is owed by the motorist. They must cycle mindful of avoiding all accidents which are foreseeable. Thus regardless of where they decide to ride their bicycle they must take reasonable care for those who might foreseeably be injured by their actions as well as for their own safety. Cyclists who choose to cycle on a footpath risk causing foreseeable injuries to others using the same footpath and also have the capacity to cause injury to those emerging from adjacent premises. The child exiting the schoolyard and the elderly member of the community who, not hearing a cyclist approaching from behind, may unexpectedly turn into their path of travel, are but two such examples. However, in the present case, Ms. Moore by the manner of her cycling did not injure anybody.
The full text of the Judgement is available on the UCC Irish Law site. Moore v Advanced Tyre Company Ltdhttp://www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IECA/2017/CA10.html