Road Share campaigners are stepping up their calls for presumed liability for Scotland’s vulnerable road users, urging the political parties to adopt the cause in their 2016 election manifestos, as the shortcomings in the current fault based civil legal system leads to frequent delays and financial hardship for the nation’s vulnerable road users particularly pedestrians and cyclists.
The farcical year-long tale of an insurance company’s defence against one cyclist and another story of Police Scotland failing to investigate a collision that saw a cyclist hospitalised, highlight a growing perceived problem where often the word of a cyclist is not believed over that of a motorist and, as a result, the vulnerable face an uphill battle against motor insurers to gain compensation for their injuries and loss.
Road Share, the Campaign for Presumed Liability, argues that the current system of civil law which requires the vulnerable road user – the injured and the bereaved – to prove the case against the more powerful, which in most situations is the motorist’s insurance company, is out of date and inherently unjust. Under presumed liability, it is for the more powerful to prove that the vulnerable road user is liable for any damage or injury.
Brenda Mitchell, one of our specialist cycling Lawyers and the founder of the Road Share campaign presented the evidence to the Cross Party Group on Cycling, which includes members of Transport Scotland’s Vulnerable Road Users Group. She said:
“We have created a David v Goliath culture when it comes to road traffic collisions where a cyclist is hit by a car, or indeed where a pedestrian is knocked over by a cyclist. As a result, the odds are frequently stacked against the vulnerable and receiving compensation quickly and fairly in many cases is impossible without resort to litigation, which adds to the distress for those who have been injured through no fault of their own.
“We think it is right for Scotland to lead the rest of the UK by changing its Civil Law to respect and protect the vulnerable in society by moving to a system of presuming liability to support cyclists and pedestrians injured in road traffic collisions.
“Political parties who care about social justice and protecting the vulnerable in our society should incorporate the Road Share proposals for presumed liability in their 2016 manifestos as we can no longer sit back and watch the current legal system fail the nation’s cyclists and pedestrians. We need to ensure the individual sits at the very heart of our civil legal system. At present, the system for obtaining compensation is heavily weighted against the injured individual who has to take on the might of the motor insurance company.
Presumed Liability would encourage insurance companies to re-evaluate their prospects of success meaning vulnerable road users would be compensated quickly and fairly and without resort to expensive Court Actions which affect everyone in terms of cost, time, money and often for the injured, a great deal of stress.
“The Road Share campaign was initiated to highlight the shortcomings in Civil Law Road Traffic liability cases where there seems to be little recognition of the destructive disparity between motorised vehicle use and walkers or cyclists.
“Presumed liability allows for a recognition of who brings most harm to a collision and in so doing shifts the burden of proof from the vulnerable to the more powerful. If liability for a collision between a cyclist and motorist falls on both parties or on one party more than the other, that can be accounted for. Presumed Liability offers a fairer and more responsible approach to compensating vulnerable road users whilst at the same time ensuring that cyclists and pedestrians who are entirely “the author of their own misfortunes“ are not compensated.
At present injured vulnerable road users can face a David v Goliath battle against a motor insurer.”
To support the campaign, please sign the online petition.