20 June 2007
High Court backs victims of untraced drivers
The High Court has made landmark judgment that could see large compensation claims for hundreds of people injured by untraced motorists.
In a case involving a youngster who was hit by a car that was never traced, the court ruled that the Department of Transport (DoT) had failed to properly transpose a 1987 European Union directive into UK law.
The victim's parents had been unaware of the existence of the Motor Insurer's Bureau (MIB) when their son, Ben Byrne, was injured by an untraced car in 1993, at the age of just three. When an appeal with the MIB was finally undertaken in 2001, the bureau claimed too much time had elapsed between the incident and the claim.
However, the High Court has rejected that argument, pointing out that a minor pursuing a common law claim for damages would have until they were 18 to bring the action. Therefore, the victims of untraced and uninsured cars were being "less favourably treated", argued Ben's QC.
This was an opinion with which the court agreed, meaning that many more cases could be brought under this ruling in the future.