A 17 year old Spanish student who was in Ireland on the 4th of February 2009 with a number of his classmates learning the English language suffered serious personal injuries when he was struck by a Dublin Bus at Herbert Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow.
At 4.50 pm that afternoon the plaintiff and his friends purchased sweets and headed for Herbert Road crossing a green in front of Killarney Heights Estate. They proceeded a short distance in a southerly direction up Herbert Road when they reached a lamppost and the plaintiff suddenly ran across the road and the defendant’s bus which was coming behind him collided into him.
The plaintiff who could not give evidence due to the severity of his injuries had become agitated at the prospect of a confrontation with some youths and they started altering their positions in the group. The plaintiff said words to the effect that he had done nothing wrong and did not want to get involved with the youths and he suddenly ran out at an angle to get to the other side of the road when he was struck by the bus.
The court heard witness testimony from a driver travelling in the opposite direction, the driver of the Dublin bus and a witness on the bus.
Judge Kevin Cross referred to a previous High Court case of Mulcahy V Lynch (Supreme Court 1993) where Judge Blayney held that where an 8 year old boy ran out from behind a school bus into the path of an oncoming car which was travelling between 5 and 10 mph that the driver’s failure to sound his horn constituted negligence.
The judge referred to a passage from that judgement which said “where a driver is approaching a school bus which has stopped to let children out, one of the obvious things that must be anticipated is that where the children will want to cross the road and may be suddenly running out from behind the bus. The approaching driver should be aware that the approach of the car is obscured from view by the presence of the bus so that the only way that you can give warning with approach is by blowing the horn.”
Judge Cross in deciding this case said that he had no doubt that the driver was generally a very safe and careful driver. He said that he had no doubt that by the time the plaintiff stepped out onto the road that the driver was alert and demonstrated this fact by his prompt braking of the bus within one length, time of one second.
The judge went on to say that the issue in the case was whether the defendants were negligent because of the failure of the driver to keep a sufficient look out and to be sufficiently alert to notice the presence of the Spanish boys on the road and to notice the fact that, though they were giving no cause for alarm, that they were acting boisterously and as a result should be faulted for his failure to take the steps of applying his brakes, moving towards the centre of the roadway and possibly blowing his horn.
The judge had the opportunity of studying the CCTV pictures and stills during and after the hearing of the case. The judge in deciding that the plaintiff had established negligence against the defendant said that had the driver seen the boys acting boisterously as they were he would have and should have blown his horn and he should have moved his vehicle out towards the right of the road.
The judge also found that the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence and that the just and equitable conclusion is that the degree of fault ought to lie 70% against the defendant and 30% against the plaintiff. The judge held that the plaintiffs damages were to be reduced by 30% accordingly.