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Injured in a car accident on private land? You may be able to claim compensation

A man who was left paralysed after being run down and struck by an uninsured driver on private land is to receive substantial damages after winning a landmark case.

In a decision which has huge implications for the motor insurance industry, the Court of Appeal has confirmed a High Court decision to extend compensation rights to people injured in car accidents on private land.

The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) – the industry body which compensates victims of drivers with no insurance – is now not only required to pay out in this case but to consider other claims of this type.

Previously, it had argued its liability was limited because the Road Traffic Act 1998 only requires people to have compulsory insurance to cover collisions on a ‘road or other public place’.

The ruling means that, under European Law, the UK is obliged to ensure that all motor vehicles are insured, even those used only on private land.

What happened in this case?

Michael Lewis, 73, was walking in the Lincolnshire countryside in 2013 when farmer Dennis Tindale, 83, spotted him and wrongly assumed he was using a metal detector to look for valuable items on his land.

He set off in his 4×4 in pursuit of Mr Lewis across a field, along a footpath and through a barbed wire fence before colliding with the pensioner and causing injuries which left him paralysed from the neck down.

In 2014, Mr Tindale, who said he had not meant to collide with Mr Lewis, was cleared by a jury of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Lewis was reportedly awarded around £1 million in damages but the MIB appealed arguing it did not have to pay because its obligations did not extend to the use of uninsured vehicles, such as the one Mr Tindale was driving, on private land.

Court of Appeal

Last month (June 2019), Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Flaux, upheld Mr Lewis’ claim and ruled that the MIB did indeed owe him compensation.

“The suggested distinction between the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place and the use of a motor vehicle on private land, is at least on the facts of the present case, a wholly artificial one,” he said.

He also added that the MIB’s refusal to pay Mr Lewis compensation breached the UK’s ‘unconditional and precise’ obligations under European law.

This ruling now opens the door to others hurt in similar circumstances to seek compensation.

For more information about this area of the law, and to see if you might be able to seek compensation, please contact Helen Boyd or any member of Wards Solicitors’ specialist Accident and Injury team.

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