April 2015

Judge Divides Liability for Taxi Injury

A judge in London’s High Court has split the liability for a taxi accident that came about because the taxi driver believed that his passenger was trying to avoid paying the fare.

The accident occurred in November 2010 when Kristopher Hicks was travelling home from an evening out with his girlfriend, Abigail Noad. The couple took a taxi, driven by Michael Young, together from the Abbey Taxi Rank in Bath.

Upon their arrival in Queen’s Drive, where they live, Abigail alighted from the care. However, before Kristopher could also get out, Young began to drive away. Later, he explained that this was because he believed that the couple were going to “do a runner” and avoid paying his fare.

Young had driven for less than a mile before Kristopher jumped from the vehicle as it was moving. However, as a consequence of his collision with the road, he sustained severe injuries to his head and is now reliant on full-time care. Kristopher will never be able to be independent again.

Due to the nature of his disabilities, Kristopher was unable to represent himself in legal proceedings. As such, his mother – Jill Hicks, who also acts as Kristopher’s full-time carer – made a claim for compensation on his behalf against Young. In the claim, she alleged that Kristopher jumped from the taxi as he thought that he was being abducted by Young, considering that he was a strange man and it was late in the evening.

However, these allegations were disputed by Young, who said that Kristopher alone was to blame for his injuries as he had made the decision to jump from the taxi as it was moving. A police investigation into the taxi driver determined that he had a “militant approach” to those avoiding fares, and even had an illegal CS gas canister to deal with such cases.

The case proceeded to London’s High Court such that Mr Justice Edis could determine liability. The judge agreed that Kristopher was “substantially to blame for his own misfortune”, though also commented that there was little doubt that Young had acted illegally by detaining his passenger. Judge Edis then ruled that there should be a fifty-fifty split in liability, and proceeded to adjourn the case such that an assessment of damages could be conducted.

Motorcyclist Ordered to Pay Injured Passenger £2,000

A motorcyclist, who injured his passenger by driving recklessly, has been ordered to pay £2,000 to the passenger and was dealt a two year suspended sentence.

The accident occurred on March 8th of this year when Mark Holmes of Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, had finished his shift working as a barman in the local pub, Commercial. He then offered his friend Joshua Pierce a lift home as a passenger on his motorcycle. Mr Pierce was supplied with a high-visibility vest and helmet to wear, leaving Mr Holmes with no helmet for himself. Shortly after their journey commenced Mr Holmes speedily exited a side road that lead onto the main Manchester Road, where he collided with a car.

Mr Holmes suffered trauma to his head – which would have been avoided if he had more than one helmet. His passenger sustained severe injuries to his lower body, notably his leg and pelvis. After emergency services brought Mr Pierce to Leeds General Infirmary an eleven-hour operation had to be carried out on his leg to reconstruct it after the collision.

An investigation was then carried out concerning the circumstances of the accident. It was discovered that, as Mr Holmes only had a provisional driving licence, he was not certified to carry passengers on the back of his motorbike. Mr Holmes was consequently charged with dangerous driving causing injury and the case against him was heard earlier this month in the Leeds Crown Court.

At the hearing, presided over by Judge Sally Cahill, Mr Holmes pleaded guilty to the charge of causing injury through dangerous driving and for failing to adhere to the conditions of his provisional licence. He also admitted that his actions that night were irresponsible and cited the decision to offer his friend a lift as foolish.  Mr Holmes’ barrister ensured the judge that his client was sober on the night of the accident, and attested to his good character. The judge sentenced Mr Holmes to a two-year suspended sentence, two hundred hours of community service and prohibited him from driving for a year. Mr Holmes was also ordered to pay the injured Mr Pierce £2,000 compensation for the accident.