The Courier Mail - Monday 25 July 2005

Pedestrian faces injury costs

Mark Oberhardt and Jeff Sommerfeld

A PEDESTRIAN who was hit by a Brisbane City Council bus could find himself financially liable for injuries sustained by one of its passengers.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane has delivered a judgment in which the liability of the pedestrian is to be decided at trial in the District Court.

The court was told bus driver Brian Littlehales drove the vehicle through a green light towards a bus lane near the Cultural Centre, in Melbourne St, South Brisbane, when Darren John Thomas stepped in front of the bus.

Thomas received a severe injury after his head struck the bus windscreen.

The court was told at the time of the accident the bus was travelling "no more than 10km an hour" and the bus managed to stop less than 1m from where it hit Thomas.

As a result of the bus driver swerving to try to avoid Thomas, elderly passenger, Irene Florence Rigney, was flung from her seat and sustained a head injury requiring hospital treatment.

Ms Rigney sued Littlehales, Thomas and the third-party insurer of the bus, NRMA.

Ms Rigney's lawyers have sought a declaration that Thomas was negligent in walking in front of the bus and contributed to or caused her injuries.

Ms Rigney's claim stated Thomas attempted to cross the road when it was unsafe and failed to exercise proper care.

It said Ms Rigney was injured solely as a result of Thomas's actions.

Ms Rigney's attempt to get a summary judgment against Thomas, who did not respond to the legal action, was dismissed by the District Court but she appealed and the Court of Appeal last week agreed the facts of the case needed to be decided at trial before a decision could be made.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman, Harold Scruby, yesterday said pedestrians should be accountable for their actions.

"I can't be seen to be bashing motorists all the time," Mr Scruby said.

"If pedestrians behave dangerously and without due care for other people, why shouldn't they share in the cost?

"I have no problem with sharing the law and equity on the roads. I'm just waiting for the day when we can sue the hell out of bicycle couriers."

Mr Scruby said people would continue to take risks crossing roads while police failed to book people who crossed when and where they should not.

He said penalties for pedestrians breaking the law should also be increased.

"It relates to everything we do. When we are riding a surfboard we have individual responsibility to act with due care," Mr Scruby said.

"The same position is there for pedestrians. We all agree we have to have good road rules and everyone obeying them.

"The biggest problem with enforcing these types of rules is police have great problems of identifying individuals and they often give false particulars."

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