Road Traffic Accident Case Update: Mohmed v Barnes and another (2019)

In the recent case of Mohmed v Barnes & Anor [2019] EWHC 87 (QB) a judge found that a driver had not been negligent when he drove into a pedestrian during an attempt to escape an assault. The case is important in relation to an assessment of “negligence”.

In Mohmed v Barnes and another, the defendant’s car collided with the claimant in a McDonald’s car park, causing him to suffer personal injuries. Consequently, the claimant brought a claim for damages in negligence, although the defendant denied liability.

The defendant had travelled to the McDonalds with some passengers in his car, and with other members of his party travelling in a Ford Fiesta. Whilst in the restaurant, some of the Fiesta passengers witnessed an alteration between a group of Asian teenagers. Upon returning to their car, they were making audible racially provocative comments. The driver of a Mercedes parked next to the Fiesta wrongfully assumed the comments were aimed at him. The claimant was a passenger of the Mercedes. The driver of the Mercedes got out of the car and confronted the driver of the Fiesta, who proceeded to drive away. The driver of the Mercedes then turned his attention to the defendant. In the meantime, the claimant had got out of the Mercedes. The defendant then collided with the claimant when driving away from the car park.

The defendant alleged that the group of teenagers had surrounded their cars and he had left the car park in a panic. The Mercedes driver gave conflicting evidence; however, his evidence was determined to be unreliable when he gave differing evidence in his witness statement and later cross-examination.

The judge found that the fact the driver of the Mercedes had been remonstrating with the defendant and had caused him to fear for his safety. The defendant had accelerated but had believed the claimant would move out of the way. As such, the judge ruled that the defendant acted in a way which did not fall short of the standard of the “reasonable driver placed in the threatening and rapidly developing situation in which he found himself.”

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