Shared posts

11 Apr 18:50

Blinded by the Sun, M'lord

by magnatom
As a vulnerable road user I view certain law firms with great suspicion. I'm sure you know the type of law firm that I am talking about, the type that boasts about the fact that it got,

'Mr Jones off of a speeding conviction because we exposed some technical issue that prevented the prosecution'

Justice requires a robust defence and so these law firms are a necessary evil, although I would prefer that they would not boast about such cases. However, doing an internet search for something else I came across this particular 'boast' on one particular law firms website:

Successful defence of Careless Driving Charge

Following a trial before Mold Magistrates Court, North Wales, today, our client was found not guilty of a charge of driving without due care and attention or careless driving, an offence which is committed when a persons driving falls below that expected of a “competent and careful” driver.

The case arose from our clients involvement in a road traffic collision with a cyclist on a stretch of dual carriageway. The collision had occurred when our client had moved from lane 2 (the outside lane) to lane one, and being momentarily blinded by the sun which was low on the horizon, had not seen the cyclist and collided with him.

Neil Davies, Principal Solicitor, represented the client before the court and made detailed legal submissions, that despite the current ”blame culture”, accidents, whether they are considered coincidence or acts of god do still happen, and the occurrence of an incident does not necessarily mean that someone must be to blame. In the context of the case Mr Davies submitted that whilst there had been a collision, it had occurred as the result of this momentary blinding and that in all other ways the standard of our clients driving had met the standard expected of a “competent and careful driver”.

Following a short period of deliberation, the magistrates returned their verdict and accepted that our clients driving had not fallen below the standard of driving expected and that this was very much an accident, therefore he was acquitted. The court also granted a defendant costs order, which now allows us to recover our clients legal costs on his behalf.

Needless to say, our client was happy at avoiding 6-9 penalty points or possible disqualification and a fine, and considered it an added bonus that he will now recover his legal costs.

I have to say, upon reading this I got very angry.

Of course, before I go any further I should point out that I do not know all the facts of the case. I was not in court and I did not hear any of the arguments. However, as this statement is from the defence lawers themselves it does hold some weight, and explains why they felt that their client 'got off'. Therefore, I will base what I write from now on on the fact I have available.

As someone who cycles and drives on dual-carriageways, if I did what was described above, I would fully expect to be found guilty. Why? Let's look at the facts as described above. The sun was low on the horizon, and it would appear was in front of the driver. Therefore, any reasonable driver would be expected to know that in such situations, blinding by the sun could be an issue. Therefore, any reasonable driver in such a situation should adjust their driving to take account of this.

Yes indeed, it is possible that the sun did momentarily blind the driver, but the driver in conditions where the sun is low in the horizon should be aware that this is a possibility. Any reasonable driver would therefore drive more cautiously, wear sunglasses (no mention is made of any being or not being worn), and look well ahead on the road and make sure you can see clearly before undertaking a manoeuvre.If enough care is taken, being momentarily blinded should not result in a collision with a cyclist.

I find the suggestion that, suggesting a driver is at fault for not taking into account the conditions in which they are driving is part of a 'blame culture', insulting. In fact we do not live in a 'blame culture', we live in a 'we all need to drive and we need to use our car to get to where we want to get fast, so therefore, any suggestion that we should slow down and take responsibility for the fact that our actions can lead to serious injury or death is unacceptable' culture.

Remember I say this as a driver as well as a cyclist.

The blame in this instance was on the sun. The blame was on the cyclist for being too small a vehicle that when faced with the sun, the driver couldn't see the cyclist. Cyclists need to be bigger, they needed to take up more of the drivers visual space. The blame was on the tree or the hedge, or the road sign that just so happened to have a gap that let the sun through at the wrong moment (do cyclist appear in moments?). The blame is anywhere where it serves to protect the rights of the driver whilst minimising the rights of anyone else to expect to remain safe from other road users.

What angered me most though about the above lawyer 'boast' was the trivial way that the cyclist was treated in the commentary. It mentions that the driver and their car was in a collision with a cyclist. There is no mention of any sympathy for that cyclist. No mention of the driver being happy that (and I hope this is the case) the cyclist escaped with minor injuries, or recovered well from more serious ones. Oh no.

Their client was happy to avoid some points on their licence, a possible disqualification or a fine, and he will now recover his legal costs.

Happy days indeed.

Well done to the driver. well done to Caddick Davies Solicitors.........and God help the rest of us.