IRWIN V STEVENSON [2002] EWCA Civ 359

INCIDENT CIRCUMSTANCES

On the 3rd November 1997, Mr Irwin was riding his Honda 850 cc motorcycle on the B3135, a country road in Somerset. This is a straight single carriageway road about 16 feet wide and subject to a 60mph speed limit. Ahead of him were two vehicles, a tractor followed by a van, travelling in the same direction.

Mr Irwin reduced his speed to 30 mph and followed the two vehicles for approximately one mile until he decided it was safe to overtake. As he began his overtake manoeuvre, he pulled out into the opposing lane and increased his speed to 45 mph when suddenly, the tractor began turning right into a junction. Mr Irwin was unable to avoid colliding with the tractor and sustained significant injuries.

JUDGEMENT

Proceedings were raised on behalf of Mr Irwin against the driver of the tractor.

At first instance, it was held that both parties were equally to blame for the collision. The Judge found that the tractor driver should have seen Mr Irwin if he had checked his mirrors adequately and Mr Irwin should have taken into account the slowing tractor and the right indicator.

Interestingly, the Appeal court disagreed with this conclusion and instead held that Mr Irwin was 100% at fault. For the Appeal Court to reach this conclusion, the Judge looked more closely at the circumstances of the incident.

On closer look, it was established that the tractor had its right-hand indicator on well in advance and had slowed down to 10mph on approach to the junction.

Mr Irwin’s representatives argued that the tractor driver should have observed Mr Irwin and his failure to do so is what caused the incident. This argument was unsuccessful. Instead, it was accepted that the tractor driver had checked his mirrors prior to turning right but had not seen Mr Irwin, most likely because he was following closely behind the van. In addition, Mr Irwin would have only become visible to the tractor driver after he had begun turning right and at that point it was deemed unreasonable for him to keep looking behind as opposed to concentrating on the road ahead and his turn across it.

SUMMARY

In short, it was held that the tractor driver did not fail in any of his duties. There was no reason for him to believe that a motorcycle, or any other vehicle, would pull out to overtake at that time or, if any vehicle did so, its driver would fail to see the tractor’s indicator lights illuminating on the top of the tractor’s cab.

Motorcyclist 100% at fault

Link to case: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2002/359.html

Related Articles

Motorcycle Law

Grace v Tanner (2003)

Case Law Motorcycle Law
February 21, 2024

Motorcyclist collides with car at a roundabout where a car fails to take the exit dictated by the lane they were driving in.

Motorcycle Law

Powell v Moody (1966)

Case Law Motorcycle Law
February 12, 2024

Motorcyclist filtering on offside of two rows of stationary cars collides with car driver. Driver 20% to blame.

Motorcycle Law

Ringe v Eden Springs (UK) Ltd QBD 12/1/12

Case Law Motorcycle Law
February 12, 2024

Motorcyclist overtakes stationary lorry at junction and collides with exiting vehicle. Motorcyclist entered hatched lines to do so and was also carrying too much speed.

Is it worth 5 minutes of your time?

A quick phone call allows us to ask you a few questions about what happened to you and determine whether we can help. 

This form collects your name and phone number so that we can contact you. Check out our Privacy Policy for more detail on how we store, process and protect your submitted data. If you choose not to consent, please use an alternative contact method shown on our Contact page.

Get in Touch

Name(Required)