When can an injured party rely on motor insurance?

Category: Personal Injury

On 27 July 2012 a tragic accident occurred on the Malmesbury Bypass in Wiltshire, involving a burger seller and a motorcycle, which raised questions about when an injured party can claim on motor insurance for compensation.

Mr Woodward ran a hamburger van which was parked up on the side of the road.  This was a converted ambulance.  Mr Woodward had set out a sign advertising the burger van on the other side of the road and as he was crossing back to the burger van he stepped into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist who was seriously injured.

Sadly, Mr Woodward was killed instantly in the collision but it was accepted that he had been negligent in stepping out into the road.

The difficulty was that Mr Woodward did not have any business liability insurance.  There was however, some insurance for the burger van and the motor cyclist sought a declaration at a preliminary hearing that the road traffic insurers of the burger van should compensate him for his injuries.

He relied on the provisions of the Road Traffic Accident and an earlier case.  In that case a vehicle had run out of petrol.  The driver of the stranded vehicle ran across the road and caused an accident with an oncoming vehicle.  In that case, it was held that the running across the road was in connection with the use of his motor vehicle and so the insurance company had to pay out.

The Judge who heard the case concerning Mr Woodward thought that this was a similar case, although it was finely balanced. The reason Mr Woodward was crossing the road was in connection with the use of the van which he was using to sell hamburgers.  Accordingly, the accident had occurred in connection with his use of the van as a vehicle and the insurers were therefore liable to compensate the injured motorcyclist.