Lightfoot v Go-Ahead Group PLC [2011] EWHC 89 (QB)

Low Moor Road, Langley Park, where the accident took place

Mr Lightfoot was struck by a bus owned by the Go-Ahead Group PLC after stepping into an unlit carriageway and attempting to catch the driver’s attention.

CCTV footage revealed that, in the seconds leading up to the accident, the driver of the bus had taken his hands off the steering wheel and consulted his timetable, meaning that he did not see Mr Lightfoot until it was too late.

Mr Lightfoot was very drunk at the time of the collision and the bus company, while admitting primary liability, used this to argue that the claimant should be found 70% contributorily negligent.

It was acknowledged by the Judge that the mere fact of intoxication is not of itself enough to justify a finding of contributory negligence. However, on the facts of this case, Mr Lightfoot’s act of walking diagonally into the road in dark conditions amounted to an act of significant carelessness.

The Judge therefore concluded that the proper apportionment of responsibility was 60% to the defendant and 40% to Mr Lightfoot.

Although Mr Lightfoot had acted carelessly, the bus driver should have anticipated the prospect of pedestrians near the edge of the carriageway, given the fact that there was no footpath and there was a bus stop ahead. The driver’s decision to read a timetable at the wheel prevented him from keeping a proper lookout and could be compared to answering a mobile phone whilst driving.

Bus Driver (Go-Ahead Group PLC) - 60%           Pedestrian - 40%

A link to the full decision can be found here.


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