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Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

03 Nov 2012

Nothing says “Winter Is Here” like defrosting your car in the morning so, as the papers report this winter is going to be one of the coldest on record, with most mornings beginning at sub-zero temperatures; it’s something we will get very good at over the coming weeks.

We all know this is a busy time of year for socialising and with this in mind, the Police have launched a campaign, ‘Drink Driving – It’s not worth the risk‘. Their advice is simple, don’t drink and drive no matter how good a driver you think you are, how little you’ve had to drink or how short your journey. They also remind us that it is very possible to be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink.

The Police suggest you ensure you have arrangements for getting home such as agreeing a designated driver, making sure you have a taxi number in your phone or finding out about public transport routes and timetables before you go out. It is worth understanding that if you get into a car with a driver who you know has been drinking and is injured in an accident, your compensation will be reduced even though you weren’t the driver. More information about the police campaign can be found at http://think.direct.gov.uk/drink-driving.html.

The AA has also published some useful, common sense, advice about staying safe on the road.

Firstly, wear your seatbelt, even if you are travelling a short distance. If you are injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, your compensation will be reduced by up to 20%.

Secondly, stay alert – don’t use your phone or fiddle with your sat nav. At Hay & Kilner, we have dealt with several claims where accidents have occurred as people were more interested in programming their sat nav than paying attention to the road.

Thirdly, watch your speed, especially when the roads are icy. There is no guarantee that the council will have been out to grit the roads and even then if you have been speeding and are involved in an accident, you are likely be found at fault.

Finally, a recent High Court decision is a stark reminder to parents to ensure they have the correct car seats available for their children. A mother was found partially to blame for the injuries sustained by her child after a fatal collision. Louise Williams had placed her child in the back seat of her car in a booster seat designed for older children when her vehicle collided head-on with a car driven by 18 year old Dayne Williams who died on impact. The child suffered severe head, spinal and internal injuries.

The Judge found that whilst Mrs Williams could do nothing to avoid the crash, Mr Williams had swerved into her path. Had she put her child in the recommended five point harness that was available in the car, the child’s injuries would largely have been avoided. He commented further that the child, who was 3 years old, was “well outside the indicated age bracket” for the booster seat, and the owners’ manual emphasised that failure to use it properly could increase the risk of serious injury or death.

The likely amount of compensation owed to the child is yet to be assessed but it is likely to be millions of pounds. The government website – https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/overview sets out very clearly the rules relating to car seats for children. Even if you do everything possible to ensure you are a safe and careful driver, you could still be involved in an accident that was not your fault.

If you have been involved in an accident in the last three years and would like some free independent advice, please contact Kevan Stronach: kevan.stronach@hay-kilner.co.uk