Recently, Sinead Moran represented the pursuer at proof (civil trial) in connection with a road traffic collision that occurred on a residential street in 2023.

The Facts

The pursuer was emerging from a parking space when the other driver appeared from her right and collided with the front of her vehicle. The value of the claim had been agreed between the parties and so the proof was restricted to liability only.

The Evidence

The court heard evidence from both drivers. The pursuer's position was that her view of the road to her right was obstructed by a van which meant she was unable to see any oncoming vehicles. The van was protruding onto the road beyond the parking bay. The pursuer gave evidence that she was edging her way out of the space, slowly. While she was stationary, the defender's insured appeared and a collision occurred.

The other driver's evidence was that the pursuer exited the space into his vehicle. He denied that the pursuer's vehicle was stationary at the time of the collision. He had moved onto the opposite side of the road to avoid the van. Once he had passed the van, he straightened his vehicle to return to the correct side of the road.

The pursuer lodged dashcam footage showing the collision and its aftermath.

Legal Position

We submitted to the court that the pursuer was aware that there may be oncoming vehicles. She acted cautiously and carefully and as any reasonable person would when their view of oncoming traffic is restricted. The pursuer did all she could in the circumstances. We argued that the other driver knew, or ought to have known, that there may be vehicles emerging from the parking bays. He could see the van protruding on to the road. He knew or ought to have known that any vehicle emerging from a parking bay beyond the van, would have a restricted view.

The Decision

The sheriff issued an oral decision following the proof. He found both parties to have been credible and reliable in giving their evidence. He considered that the dashcam footage was inconclusive as to whether the pursuer was stationary or moving but found that had the pursuer been moving, it was marginal and that, in any event, the pursuer had driven her vehicle appropriately in the circumstances. The sheriff also found that the defender had driven at a reasonable speed and that he did not see the pursuer's vehicle prior to the collision. However, the sheriff then asked whether the accident could have been avoided - and his answer was yes. He held that the other driver ought to have anticipated there may be vehicles emerging from the bays beyond the van. As such, the other driver ought not to have moved back to his side of the road until he knew it was safe. There were no oncoming vehicles preventing him from doing so.

Commentary

This was a narrow decision which highlights the importance of drawing out all of the facts in evidence. If the court had accepted the other driver's position that the pursuer had driven into his vehicle then, at best, there may have been a finding of contributory negligence on the part of the pursuer. Alternatively, the sheriff may have found that the pursuer had failed to prove the other driver had driven negligently - or perhaps that the pursuer was fully responsible for the collision. The pursuer was emerging into the defender's path and indeed, the damage to the other driver's vehicle was to the left hand side - consistent with the pursuer having driven in to the other vehicle while it was already in the process of passing her. The two key factors that led to the sheriff finding in the pursuer's favour were establishing as a matter of fact that (i) the pursuer was either stationary or moving very slowly at the point of collision and (ii) the pursuer hit the side of the other driver's car because he was manoeuvring back to the left as he passed the van.

Contributors

Sinead Moran

Solicitor

Lauren Kerr

Associate

Laura McMillan

Partner & Director of Advocacy