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29 December 2006 - PI Practitioner

ROAD TRAFFIC – DUTY OF CARE WHEN DRIVING TOO CLOSE TO THE CAR IN FRONT
Whittle v. Bennett, CA 1st November 2006

A person driving too close to the vehicle in front owes a duty not just to the vehicle in front, but to all persons who might reasonably be affected by those actions.

The claimant was carrying out a U-turn at a point on the road with limited visibility. The defendant was driving too closely behind another vehicle; both were approaching the claimant. The first vehicle managed to avoid the claimant, but the defendant did not, and they collided. The Court of Appeal endorse the first instance judge’s decision to dismiss the claim, as the defendant would have been unable to stop even if he had not been driving too close to the car in front.

LIMITATION – WHEN A CLAIM IS ‘BROUGHT’
St Helens MBC v. Barnes [2006] EWCA Civ 1372

With respect to s. 11(3) of the Limitation Act 1980, a claim is ‘brought’ when the claimant’s request for issue of a claim form is delivered to the correct court office within the appropriate opening hours. If the claim form is not in fact issued until a later date after the expiry of limitation, it will not give rise to the statutory defence.

DISPUTED CAUSATION IN LOW VELOCITY IMPACT CASES – DEFENDANT’S PROCEDURE
Casey v. Cartwright [2006] EWCA Civ 1280

In a normal whiplash case there should be no need for expert evidence on causation. Only if the Defendant wished to argue that the claim was fraudulent because the impact was too minor to cause any or any greater than trivial injuries would the causation issue arise. The Defendant should notify the other parties within three months of receipt of the letter of claim that he intended to raise the causation issue, should plead the issue in a defence supported by a statement of truth, and should serve within 21 days of service of the defence a witness statement dealing with the defendant’s evidence on causation.

When the above procedures are complied, and the issue is properly raised, the court will normally give permission for the claimant to be examined by a medical expert nominated by the defendant. If the court was then satisfied that the evidence showed a defence case on causation with real prospects of success, then it should give the defendant permission to rely on that medical evidence.