Recently, a viral video has been making its rounds on the internet. The minute long video features a schoolboy who runs across a road and ends up flying in the air after being hit by a car. Thankfully, the schoolboy did not appear to be seriously injured and eventually got up with some help.
The question on many netizens minds is who is to blame- with some criticizing the driver while others blaming the schoolboy. Although this question of liability can only be known through a thorough investigation, here are some possible outcomes based on the video.
Is the driver at fault?
The driver could be criminally liable for dangerous driving under the Road Traffic Act. The video shows that the accident occurred at Block 827, Jurong West Street 81, which is a residential area. The speed limit on such roads is usually 50km per hour. If the driver committed a crime while driving (such as using his mobile phone, drink driving or driving above the speed limit), the driver is likely to be at fault for causing the dangerous driving.
According to Mr. Nakoorsha A.K, a partner at Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, the driver might also be at fault for failing to come out of the car to assist the pedestrian. Mr Nakoorsha explains that based on Section 84(3) and Section 84(8) of the Road Traffic Act, “it is an offence not to render assistance as may reasonably be in the power of the driver to render after being involved in the accident.”
Alternatively, the driver could be liable for causing personal injury under the tort of negligence. If the driver failed to exercise reasonable care and attention while driving (such as failing to check blindspot etc.), the driver will need to compensate the schoolboy for the injury he caused.
To ascertain if the driver committed any of the above mistakes, the Courts will refer to the police report, the official written record of the accident. When the police take down statements from both the driver and pedestrian, they will also corroborate this with videos and statements from eye-witnesses.
In this case, the driver was lucky to have recorded the entire accident on his in-car camera. This allows the driver to have concrete proof on the occurrence of the accident rather than just relying on his or her recollection of events.
Ms. Viviene Sandhu, a Partner at Clifford Law, advises that “driver should take dvantage of technology and protect themselves by installing in car cameras (front and rear) so that they can clearly prove that they are not at fault.”
How about the schoolboy, is he at fault too?
In the video, the schoolboy is seen to be dashing across the road without checking for ongoing traffic from both sides. He was also jaywalking and did not cross at a traffic junction.
Just recently in March 2016, the Singapore Court of Appeal ruled that “pedestrians should take charge of their own safety” and found that an injured victim was 15% to blame even though he crossed a traffic junction when the green light was active (Asnah Bte Ab Rahman V Li Jianlin  2 SLR 944).
Similarly, the schoolboy is likely to be found contributory negligent given his dangerous crossing of the road. A finding of contributory negligence means that the pedestrian is also partly responsible for causing the accident and that the driver will not need to bear the total sum of damages. For example, the court may find that a pedestrian is 60% contributory negligent and if the medical expenses amount to $1000, the driver involved will only pay the pedestrian $400.
According to Mr. Nakoorsha A.K, “the Courts take into account all the relevant circumstances and facts of the case at hand. Notwithstanding the young age of the schoolboy involved, the Court will consider whether in these particular circumstances, he had failed to exercise reasonable care expected of him in this situation. If so, the Court will apportion an appropriate amount of liability for the accident to the schoolboy.”
Ms. Viviene Sandhu also noted that the Court “will look at the Motor Accident Guidebook which sets out the degree of contributory negligence for the more common types of road traffic accidents.”
Based on the available information, it is likely that given the schoolboy’s dangerous crossing of the road, the driver will not be completely liable. Nonetheless, the driver might still be responsible if there is evidence of a crime or negligence.
A traffic accident can cause immense physical and mental stress on the parties involved. It is important for both drivers and pedestrians to remain calm in the immediate aftermath of the accident and cooperate with the authorities to determine the key facts of the case:
- Take note of your speed in residential areas as well as ensure that you comply with traffic rules
- Best to install a in-car camera to record all road incidents
- Exchange particulars (NRIC Numbers, addresses, contact number) with the other parties involved in the accident
- In cases involving injury or death, you are required to call the police and make a police report as soon as possible. Do not shift vehicles as the police will need to make a sketch plan.
- Inform your insurers about the accident within 24 hours. Under the Motor Claims Framework in Singapore, you must make a report with your insurers even if you intend to do a direct settlement with the Third Party or make a Third-Party insurance claim.
- Exercise due caution and personal responsibility when crossing the road
- See a doctor and get a medical report after the accident
- Make a report to your insurers and seek a lawyer’s advice on how to proceed in the matter. For personal injury claims, the time limitation is 3 years from the date of the accident. If you make a claim after 3 years, your claim will be time-barred.
This article is written by Seah Ern Xu from Asia Law Network.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.