Churchill Insurance – victim blaming

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  • Churchill Insurance – victim blaming
  • ormondroyd
    Member

    So a driver, going too fast, hits someone they haven’t seen walking along the verge of a road, and the insurance company is pushing this right through the court system to try to attach blame to the victim for not wearing high viz:

    Presumably if the driver had hit a tree, they’d be blaming the tree for not wearing a gilet.

    Too small, didn’t read.
    Link to online version ?

    legend
    Member

    Where were the parents of this 13 year old child at the time? She also wasn’t walking towards the traffic, if she had been there’s a chance that she could’ve gotten out of the way. The headphones didn’t help either.

    I think the high-vis argument is a bit crap, but I do believe that at least some of the blame rests with her, but as a minor should that matter? Also, where in the article does it say he was going too fast? And if she was on the verge that must mean the car was too, again can’t see that mentioned.

    I’ve only looked at the article from my phone, so may have missed stuff.

    rusty90
    Member

    Maybe they should fit cars with big lights at the front so they can see stuff? And brakes to control their speed?

    ormondroyd
    Member

    Also, where in the article does it say he was going too fast?

    It says that the judge stated that 50mph was too fast on that road in the dark

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    sounds like a bit of both there, headphones not facing traffic dark not wearing something that a car could pick out sounds reckless. So does hitting somebody, however if you don’t can’t see them then where does that leave you?

    ormondroyd
    Member

    however if you don’t can’t see them then where does that leave you?

    Driving too fast. “Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear”

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Maybe they should fit cars with big lights at the front so they can see stuff? And brakes to control their speed?

    …and make drivers responsible for not driving into things in front of them? Radical idea, but I can’t see it ever happening.

    seba560
    Member

    Dangerous precedent.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    High Court has already thrown this out, so there’s a fair chance the Court of Appeal will do likewise.

    Insurers will do just about anything to wriggle out of liability, no surprise there.

    Coming around bends on dark lanes and finding someone walking on/off the verge is not exactly a one in a million event. Claiming someone is part-liable because they weren’t wearing reflectives is pretty thin stuff, especially when applied to a minor.

    ormondroyd
    Member

    As I say, if they’d hit a tree, would Churchill be claiming it was the tree’s fault for not being bright yellow?

    legend
    Member

    Driving too fast. “Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear”

    Which he probably thought he was. What he didn’t expect was to find a ninja on the road, except said ninja was on the verge, but he was on the road so had to bend space and time to hit someone not on the road whilst not leaving it – glupton level skillz

    scuttler
    Member

    She’s definitely not to blame but she/parents are still dumb if she indeed was not wearing something reflective, was not on the right-hand side (bend permitting), and was wearing headphones which I assume were playing loud.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    Sounds like she was walking on the road not the grass verge so I don’t see how comparing it to hitting a tree has any value to the debate (…sorry forgot this was STW for a minute…). Tricky one, I’d have thought the insurers would have paid out given it’s a child involved and the negative PR they must have known they’d get but at the same time she has to be partly at fault given her actions.

    DrP
    Member

    Playing devils advocate here – I live in a village with no street lights, or pavements, and when it’s dark it’s DARK!
    My car has lights, I drive slowly, but I still get a bit frustrated at people walking dogs etc wearing black/brown clothing, at night, with no torch.
    I’ve yet to hit anyone, and I know if I did it would likely be put as being my fault, however…. Pedestrians should try a bit harder in certain situations to make themselves seen if they are to become a ‘road user’.

    DrP

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Burn Dr p at the stake!

    It’s a fair point and it’s a 2 way thing.

    ormondroyd
    Member

    Ninja / fallen tree / parked skip / massive pothole / downed cyclist / child with ipod

    It’s irrelevant. You have to know what you’re piloting your car into, and drive at a speed so that it you can’t see any further, you can at least stop in time when something unexpected arises.

    Too many motorists seem to think that it’s alright to go round a tight blind bend at a pace that’d not allow them to stop if there was something stopped on the road just beyond it. It’s not.

    I agree with Dr P’s point that people ought to do something to be seen, because it’s sensible, but ultimately it’s the driver’s responsibility not to hit stuff that they can’t immediately see.

    zokes
    Member

    Agree with DrP. Anyone who’s driven up Bryn Bella to Rachub from the Bethesda–>Bangor stretch of the A5 after dark will have seen (or more likely almost not seen) a good collection of locals, in black coats, walking black labradors, on black extended leads. No street lights there, and given the way most people drive up there, pretty amazing there aren’t more accidents. However, if they carried a torch and kept their dogs closer, there probably wouldn’t be any accidents

    legend
    Member

    ormondroyd – Member

    It’s irrelevant. You have to know what you’re piloting your car into, and drive at a speed so that it you can’t see any further, you can at least stop in time when something unexpected arises.

    It is not irrelevant, ped’s should be taking just as much care (if not more) to avoid the big metal shiny things that use the road, some seem to forget that it’s them that’ll come off worst. Especially when you’re a skinny 4ft something child (wearing dark clothes and listening to your ipod)

    What speed should you be going at to avoid a drunk falling out of a hedgerow and onto your bonnet/windscreen*? There are situations that cannot be accounted for, like (imo) the three into one (as lets face it, she was walking on the road) situation that happened here.

    *actually happened to my Old Man just outside Loch Winnoch

    ormondroyd
    Member

    What speed should you be going at to avoid a drunk falling out of a hedgerow and onto your bonnet/windscreen*?

    That’s different: It’s something moving into your path, rather than something already being in your path

    nick1962
    Member

    Can’t read the article properly but the insurance company will payout. They are saying that the victim’s actions played a part in the accident and so are trying to reduce their payout by whatever % they think the victim was at fault.This is standard insurance practice and perhaps they are pushing this one as a test case to reduce payouts in similar cases? Not saying I agree BTW!

    Haven’t there already been cases where cyclists have had injury compensation reduced because they were not wearing a helmet ?
    Isn’t this just a variation of that ?

    Oh, and I still can’t read it.
    Isn’t it on line anywhere ?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Tricky, isn’t it. There’s an obvious ‘victim’ here because one party comes off much worse than the other, and that colours reactions.

    If you’re on the road, you have to take some responsibility for your actions. Emotive reactions aside, there’s clearly fault on both sides as evident from the fact that both parties could’ve taken actions which would have prevented the accident.

    If the driver couldn’t stop in the distance he could see, then he was driving too fast for the conditions. As the driver of a large metal object, the bulk of the responsibility probably lies here.

    But wandering around on a road in the dark whilst effectively deaf (headphones) and blind (back to traffic) is plain reckless. Some responsibility must lie here; and as was a minor, perhaps also her parents?

    I often (thankfully) see kids on bikes on the road at nights. Invariably dressed in black, hood up, no lights and riding erratically with absolutely no road discipline. Even driving defensively, they’re really hard to spot and you can be almost on top of them before they’re visible. All it’d take is for a driver’s concentration to drop for a second or be driving slightly quicker and they’ll be strawberry jam. Makes my blood run cold thinking about it.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    there’s clearly fault on both sides as evident from the fact that both parties could’ve taken actions which would have prevented the accident.

    In the same way women could have prevented being raped by wearing a longer skirt?

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Read the article earlier.

    The insurers are not trying to escape all blame, just trying to argue that there was some contributory negligence. He was driving too fast, she was walking in the dark with no visual aids – despite the fact that she knew to use them when out on her horse – and was listening to headphones, impairing her ability to hear traffic.

    The drivers actions after the impact apparently saved her life, though largely irrelevent to this argument.

    Not sure this will stand up due to her age, but given the rush of “no win-no fee” claims, insurers will try and take a stand every now and then. Not sure if this was the case to do it on. Maybe if they’d taken a stand 20 years ago when the claims plague crossed over from Northern Ireland to Merseyside, they wouldn’t be in this mess and all our premiums wouldn’t be as high.

    Flame me if you like

    MCTD
    (Veteran of the Claims office who paid out the UK’s first £1 million injury settlement – who definitely deserved it, btw.)

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    In the same way women could have prevented being raped by wearing a longer skirt?

    Yes, of course that’s exactly the same thing and directly comparable.

    In the case of rape there’s an attacker and a victim; it’s an intentional act of violence. With a road collision there’s (usually) no intent, there’s no victim of an attack, it just looks like it because one party that comes off significantly worse than the other.

    If I jumped in the canal and drowned, am I a victim of water?

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Driver was going to fast to be able to stop within his field of vision. Unless she jumped out in front of him, I can’t see how the girl should have any blame attached for this.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    In the case of rape there’s an attacker and a victim; it’s an intentional act of violence.

    If someone chooses to drive faster than they are able to stop safely then they have knowingly accepted that they may hit something / someone. There is clear intent or gross ignorance and ignorance isn’t normally a defence.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Not necessarily ignorance or intent – you know all the fuss about the nanny state interfering with normal day to day activities due to elf n safety? Same applies to driving – if everyone was as cautious as maybe in an ideal world we should be, nothing in this country would actually move anywhere.

    Almost no one goes slow enough to stop within their clear line of vision, in a motor vehicle or on a bike. Who can genuinely say that they never go above 40mph (or whatever it is) in a car on a country lane at night? Who always leaves the correct stopping distance from the car in front? Who never goes above 10mph going down a nice dry twisty bridlepath in case there is a walker round the next hedge hidden bend?

    Life is a series of calculated risks – get one of them wrong, and you, more likely someone else, will regret it for ever. And from what I’ve read in this case, that is what happened – no mention that the driver was prosecuted, so presumably his “error of judgement” wasn’t deemed to be criminal, just tragic for the poor girl, who is waiting to find out whether the law of the land feels she may have partly contributed to the situation.

    And that is what the motor insurer is there for, to compensate the victim when it goes so badly wrong (though this may not be the case to be arguing the toss on, even if that toss will be several hundred thousands of pounds).

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    If someone chooses to drive faster than they are able to stop safely then they have knowingly accepted that they may hit something / someone. There is clear intent or gross ignorance and ignorance isn’t normally a defence.

    Ignorance, certainly. I doubt very much that there’s any grounds for intent. No-one thinks “it’s a nice night for going and running someone over.”

    It’s very easy to be driving at what you perceive to be a sensible speed only to be caught unaware by something hard to see. There’s very clearly an education / training issue here; it’s not something a lot of people are particularly good at judging.

    Driving at a speed where you can stop in a distance you can see doesn’t take into account things that you can’t see. That sounds a bit nonsensical, sorry; what I mean is, many people won’t take that into account. They might think they can ‘see’ for a given distance and drive accordingly, but something heavily camouflaged might not be visible until much closer.

    Not that I’m trying to make excuses here. I just think that as a driver you have a responsibility to drive defensively and considerately, and as a pedestrian you have a responsibility to see(*) and be seen. Both parties failed their responsibilities here, with tragic consequences. I don’t think it’s fair to hold the motorist solely to account just because he’s bigger.

    (* – before pedants jump in taking me to task about “seeing” blind people, I mean have an awareness of their surroundings generally)

    edlong
    Member

    Life is a series of calculated risks – get one of them wrong, and you, more likely someone else, will regret it for ever

    …and that’s when the insurance pays out.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    there’s clearly fault on both sides as evident from the fact that both parties could’ve taken actions which would have prevented the accident.

    So you didn’t like my previous perfectly valid comparison? Well the obvious action the pedestrian should have taken in this particular case is to get in a car. There’s no evidence at all that any other action by them would have prevented the accident.

    boblo
    Member

    ormondroyd – Member
    As I say, if they’d hit a tree, would Churchill be claiming it was the tree’s fault for not being bright yellow?

    Let me, let me….

    Oh yesssss!

    That’s all.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Backing up a bit, I’ve just read the article.

    The story explains that the driver moved over to avoid oncoming traffic, hitting the girl who he’d just not seen. Very easy to see how this happened now. You’re driving at night on an unlit road, your eyes adjust to the dark. An oncoming vehicle rounds a bend and your night vision is wrecked for a moment until your eyes adjust. Something small and dark in the shadows off to the side is going to be incredibly difficult to see.

    the obvious action the pedestrian should have taken in this particular case is to get in a car. There’s no evidence at all that any other action by them would have prevented the accident.

    There’s no evidence that getting in a car would have prevented an accident either.

    There might not be evidence that “any other action” would have prevented the accident, but it would seem plausible that the driver would have been less likely to have collided with something if it’d have been more visible, would it not?


    Just so we’re clear, incidentally, I’m not talking about ‘blame’ from an insurance point of view. In terms of accountability, it’s a fairly cut and dried case given she was a minor. Though, why she was walking home in the dark on unlit roads and wearing headphones is a question that should be directed towards her parents perhaps. The fact that the insurance is trying to weasel out of paying is fairly deplorable.

    When I say blame, I mean the moral “it was all your fault” sort of blame. Having read the article I’m not even convinced that blame is the right word, it’s a tragic set of circumstances that lead to an accident.

    Junkyard
    Member

    So you didn’t like my previous perfectly valid comparison?

    is there another as all I saw was a ludicrous comparison between an accident and a violent intentional sexual crime

    Did i miss the valid comparison?

    For example I think that to ride your bike at night without lights is dangerous and makes it more likely you will be hit and headphones and the risk may increase some more

    As far as i am aware not wearing a skirt is not a valid piece of H & S advice for rape prevention.

    Its a proper stellar orbit silly comparison and i dont wish to engage as you murder it to death

    Driving too fast. “Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear”

    Interesting thought that. Ever driven on the motorway or an dual carigeway at night?

    Dipped beams are designed to iluminate the road for the aproximate distance the highway code reckons you can stop from 30mph.

    Seeing as you can’t really use main beams on the motorway, do you drive at 30mph?

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Just so we’re clear, incidentally, I’m not talking about ‘blame’ from an insurance point of view.

    In which case you’re completely missing the point. We’re not discussing how to avoid being involved in an accident.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Being discussed on Radio 2 now, if anyone’s interested.

    deviant
    Member

    This debate crops up time and again with horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians all making out they are the clear victim in a collision with a car but seemingly ignorant that they are also classed as road users in the highway code and have guidance written down as to how to improve their visibility at night on the roads….seems to fly right over people’s heads….but but he was in a car the evil bastard!….yes and you were wearing black, walking with back to traffic and wearing head phones.

    If you take to the road on foot, bike or horseback accept that you have just become a road user and do everything you can to minimise risk.

    There seems to be a worryingly militant attitude at the moment that if you are on foot or pedaling then you can do no wrong even if flouting all guidance on how to stay safe on the roads.

    In the same way women could have prevented being raped by wearing a longer skirt?

    That is a bloody good example when you think about it. Would wearing a longer skirt prevent someone getting raped? Maybe – we dont know. Should women wear long skirts to minimise their risk of getting raped? No, because that would be a moronic thing to ask them to do. Should folk be forced to wear hi viz to walk along a road in the dark? No – drivers should slow down and look where they’re going, just like rapists should keep it in their pants.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Well no, it’s a straw man.

    Should women wear long skirts to minimise their risk of getting raped?

    No, because in this case there is a clear attacker and victim. Women have a fundamental right not to be raped, ever. It really is that simple.

    Should folk be forced to wear hi viz to walk along a road in the dark?

    Yes. Well, I don’t know about forced, but I think they should definitely be encouraged. There’s no ‘attack’ here, no-one has a right not to be in an accident, it’s unintentional by definition.

    Therefore, it’s sensible for all road users to take simple precautions to reduce risk and improve safety for themselves and for those around them. Being visible, driving defensively, putting lights on your bike.

    Should you be forced to wear a cycle helmet? No, but a vocal Edinburghian aside I think most would agree it’s a good idea.

    No, because in this case there is a clear attacker and victim. Women have a fundamental right not to be raped, ever. It really is that simple.

    Pedestrians and cyclists have a fundamental right not be be hit by a car.

    I dont think that there is any such thing as an accident involving a car. If folk are not expecting there to be stuff that is hard to see on the roads at night then they shouldn’t be driving. Things are only unexpected because folk dont expect them. Nobody ever asks why folk werent expecting certain things though do they?

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    You still seem to be missing the point that we’re allocating blame for something which happened rather than suggesting sensible safety precautions, mr moderator. Pedestrians have a fundamental right not to be run into by a car, ever. It really is that simple.

    mogrim
    Member

    That is a bloody good example when you think about it. Would wearing a longer skirt prevent someone getting raped? Maybe – we dont know. Should women wear long skirts to minimise their risk of getting raped? No, because that would be a moronic thing to ask them to do. Should folk be forced to wear hi viz to walk along a road in the dark? No – drivers should slow down and look where they’re going, just like rapists should keep it in their pants.

    It’s a piss-poor example, as it turns a reasonable discussion into a “are in you favour of rape or not?” emotional slug-fest. Just for the record, I believe women should be able to wear what they like, when they like, without risk of rape. That’s quite a different matter to the risks inherent in shared road-use.

    If you walk on a country road at night while wearing dark clothes you are effectively invisible from any distance over 10m. It doesn’t make much difference if you’re illuminated or not, you are camouflaged and don’t stand out. Unless the driver were going at 20mph he would have little or no chance of avoiding an accident. As a road user you have a responsibility to make yourself seen – and if you don’t want to, use the pavement.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Pedestrians and cyclists have a fundamental right not be be hit by a car.

    Why do we want to stop cyclists running red lights, then? They should just cycle through with impunity, they’ve got a right not to be hit so we can just leave it to the motorists to avoid them.

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