Police reports showcase the high-rate Cyprus has as regards road traffic accidents. According to the collected data, out of 555 recorded road traffic accidents that occurred in 2022, 35 were fatal, 225 resulted in severe injuries and the rest in mild injuries. With a whopping percentage of 18.39% as the leading cause of fatal accidents being negligent and careless driving. If you have you been involved in a road traffic accident, it is recommended to also consult your lawyer to protect your legal rights and ensure you receive proper legal advice.
Establishing road traffic negligence
Road conduct is underlined by the foundational neighbouring principle. This principle establishes that every road user has a duty to take care of every other road user. As envisaged by Article 51(1)a of the Civil Wrongs Law, Cap 148, a standard is used in this occasion so that the specific user’s road conduct can be assessed against. This standard has been incorporated with the use of the reasonable man possessing a special skill. Thus, road drivers will be assessed for their road conduct against that of the reasonable road driver and not the perfect one.
Breach of the duty to take care is founded whenever the conduct is considered below this standard and the defendant has failed to exercise care in fulfilling this duty. Confusion is often caused by violations of the regulations of proper road conduct. However, violation of the regulations as encapsulated in the Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations of 1984-2013 does not by itself translate to a breach of duty of care and consequently, negligence. These regulations may act as guidance for the assessment of the road conduct for the reasonable driver. Negligence intertwines and will be assessed on the basis of time, space as well as all the circumstances that led to the accident.
This breach must lead to the specific injury sustained. Such a link is called causation. The road driver’s conduct must be the cause of the defendant’s injury but not necessarily the sole cause. This can be proved with the use of eye witness and expert or police reports. Finally, for a finding of negligence an injury or loss has to be sustained.
The claimant has the burden of proving his case on the balance of probabilities. What this means is that the claimant will have to furnish the Court with sufficient evidence, that his case is more probable than not, and not that his case is more probable than that of the other party’s. This is especially important to understand as a claimant may fail to prove his case even if his case is more probable than the defendant’s case.
Insurance and compensation
An important reminder whenever negotiations are unsuccessful or not happening, is to formally inform the insurance company representing the defendant within 14 days before filing an action, irrespective of the party sued (the defendant, the insurance company directly, or both). This is a condition precedent in the obligation the insurance company has to compensate the defendant. The insurance company is obliged to compensate the defendant if negligence is established. This obligation is not only based on the contractual relationship of the insurance company and the insured but on specific provision of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Liability Insurance) Law of 2000 (L. 96(I)/2000).
As noted in the first part of this series which can be found here, general damages are mainly awarded for the pain and suffering of the claimant and special damages are awarded only for quantifiable and proven losses that have been finalised up to the date of the trial.
Road traffic accidents do not often lead to severe injuries or fatalities. The most common type of injury sustained is a neck injury caused by sudden movement of the head (whiplash). Depending on the surrounding circumstances the amount awarded for general damages may be in the region of €1.000 to €3.000. More severe cases will need to be individually assessed by a lawyer. In the event of disability after the accident, the value of general damages to be awarded will most likely be significantly increased. It is important to remember that no two cases are the same and that every case will be assessed on its own set of facts and merits.
Evidence will need to be presented to the other side as regards special damages i.e. doctor appointment receipts, medicinal products receipts, physiotherapies and the like. Special damages in the form of car repairs can only be claimed by the owner of the car.
In the event that contributory negligence is alleged i.e. that the claimant has to also be blamed for the accident, the defendant will have the burden to prove this (i.e. that the claimant is also to blame), in the same way that the claimant will have to do for his case. The principle of contributory negligence has its foundation on the premise that the claimant has a duty to also protect himself from harm. Contributory negligence cannot be used as defence. Following a finding of contributory negligence is the exercise of apportionment of liability. What matters for this exercise is the determination of the operative cause of the accident and the causative link between negligence and the accident. If contributory negligence has been proved and the apportionment of liability has been divided between the claimant and the defendant, the amount of damages awarded to the claimant will decrease accordingly.
Our law firm regularly handles the entire negotiation and litigation process. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation of your road traffic accident case. Our expert lawyers are available to assist you.
The content of this article is valid as at the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on your specific matter before acting on any information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Mr Agis Charalambous, Associate at the litigation department of our firm at telephone 22447777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org