Missing Road Sign – Not the Cause of Fatal Road Accident?

If the Council fails to re-install a missing road sign warning for road users that there is a sharp bend ahead, for example, will that mean that the Council can be held to blame in whole or in part for a fatal road accident claim or indeed any road traffic accident involving a vehicle, lorry or bike?

When we refer to an accident it can mean where injuries are from minor, to serious or fatal injury claims.

A claim of this kind can be challenging because it is not merely enough to show that there were some problems with the road but that they were causative of the accident. Ordinarily where a vehicle leaves the road without the intervention of another party and without an obvious alternative cause, the presumption will be that it is the driver’s fault. There will therefore be a heavy practical burden upon a claimant seeking to prove that there were alternative factors allowing legal blame to lie elsewhere.

Gorringe v. Calderdale MBC [2004] UKHL 15 (a decision of the House of Lords and thus unbreakable authority) holds that a local authority has no duty of care under the Highways Act or at common law for omission to provide a road sign. The House of Lords firmly stated that it was the road user’s responsibility to travel at an appropriate speed. I should note that even if there was a duty to provide or ensure for warning signs, the allegation would be problematic in terms of causation ie. whether the lack of warning chevron made a difference.

No Claim for a Fatal Road Accident Therefore?

That would appear to be the general view as the law stands today. However, every case will be dependent upon its own particular facts so it is still important that you obtain legal advice in the circumstances.

Posted: August 30, 2016 at 12:24 pm