Third party liability insurance – are you covered?
For some years now the Road Traffic Act 1988 has been in conflict with European directives on insurance and providing cover for third party liabilities but, notwithstanding this, successive UK governments have failed to implement these European directives.
More recently, court cases such as Damijan Vnuk –v– Zavarovalnica Triglav (2013) and Delaney –v– the Secretary of State for Transport (2014) have repeatedly indicated that court interpretations of the 1988 Road Traffic Act should give effect to its intended purpose, in line with European directives, rather than interpret it literally. Considered in this light, a mechanically-propelled vehicle that was not necessarily designed originally to be used on a road absolutely does need insurance when being driven on roads or in other public places.
In the Vnuk case, a tractor-driver was reversing a trailer into a barn when the trailer knocked Mr Vnuk off a ladder, causing him serious injury. Cases such as this have led to European court rulings that confirm mechanically-propelled vehicles of any kind, whilst being used for their purpose even on private land, are required to have insurance cover extending to any third party who may be injured as a result of the use of that vehicle.
If a vehicle involved in an accident is uninsured the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), as a fund of last resort, can be called on to pay compensation claims, as the recent case of Lewington –v– MIB confirmed. Ms Lewington was injured after driving her car off the road at night in an attempt to avoid two stolen earthmoving vehicles that were being driven without rear lights. The successful court hearing cleared the way for Ms Lewington to receive the damages she had been awarded following the accident but which the MIB had contested.
A sensible next step for UK law-makers may be to require mechanically-propelled vehicles to have insurance cover no matter where they are driven including on private land, as European law dictates. Under a regime like this, mobility scooters driven on pavements would require insurance, and anyone who is injured by a mobility scooter would have recourse to compensation. The law might also extend to electrically-powered bicycles and other motorised devices.
Garry Sleet. Personal Injury departmentGeneral, George Ide, Personal Injury Blog