The Court of Appeal has confirmed a High Court decision to extend compensation rights to people injured in car accidents on private land. The court found the Motor Insurers Bureau was liable to pay out to 73-year-old Michael Lewis after he suffered severe spinal cord injuries.
Lewis was on foot when he was chased across private land by the land owner, who was driving a 4x4 Nissan Terrano. The incident left him a tetraplegic and in need of permanent ongoing care. As the driver was uninsured, the MiB acted as the defendant.
Giving judgment in Motor Insurers’ Bureau v Lewis, Lord Justice Flaux said: ‘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.’
David Gauler, of Thompsons Solicitors, who is representing Mr Lewis, said the ruling is a ‘logical extension and opens the door to others injured in similar circumstances to claim compensation’.
Lawyers successfully challenged the MiB’s argument that its liability was limited because the Road Traffic Act 1998 requires compulsory insurance to cover collisions only on a ‘road or other public place’.
Thompsons argued that an EU directive requiring compulsory insurance on both public and private land should apply against the MiB as it was an ‘emanation of the state’, in according with case law.
Gauler said the decision has shut off the MiB from rejecting claims from people injured on private land, adding: ‘Today’s ruling will mean that the MiB, which has a number of ways to exclude victims from compensation under both the uninsured and untraced agreements that wouldn’t apply if the claim were under normal insurance, will now face new claims that it can’t wriggle out of.’