Motorcyclist loses public liability case after crashing into barrier

Date: Nov 03, 2017

In the recent case of Wells v Council of the City of Orange, the plaintiff (motorcyclist Benjamin John Wells) claimed compensation for injuries he sustained when he drove into water-filled barriers that the defendant (the City Council) had placed on the road to delineate where roadworks were happening. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the judgement fell in favour of the defendant – let’s take a look at why.

Facts of the case

The accident occurred in 2009 on Jilba Street – the evening was clear with fine weather, and at 7pm the plaintiff crossed the street on a pedestrian walkway en route to a friend’s house. The defendant claimed that in doing so he would have seen the orange roadwork barriers, each with reflective signs. At approximately 10:30pm, Mr Wells returned through Jilba Street, this time on a motorcycle.

According to the evidence, he successfully passed southwards through the barriers, made a U-turn at some point and then travelled northwards again, this time colliding with the southern side of the barriers at a speed of 50-60 km/h. The plaintiff was not wearing a helmet and suffered severe head injuries after flying over the barriers. He also had a blood alcohol level of 0.059, which medical professionals theorise impaired his driving. To make matters worse, Mr Wells was not holding a driver’s licence, having had it previously revoked until 2021.

Mr Wells takes the City Council to court

Following his recovery, the plaintiff brought forward grievances against the Council of the City of Orange, claiming that they had not provided sufficient lighting or delineation of the roadwork and that the Traffic Control Plan was not up to Australian Standards. The defendant denied these charges, claiming that the streetlights were all in working order and provided sufficient light to be able to see the barriers. There was also no evidence that the barriers weren’t up to code.

The judge ultimately ruled in favour of the defendant for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the plaintiff both walked and drove his motorcycle through the area with the barriers before his final collision with them, therefore, the lighting could not have been as poor as he claimed. Secondly, his blood alcohol limit and lack of helmet showed negligence on his own behalf, not the defendant’s, that might have led to the severity of the incident.

There are a few lessons to learn from this case, but the most important is this: make sure you’re entering into a legal battle you can win. Luckily, there are law firms out there, like Gerard Malouf & Partners, that offer free consultations – this way, you can get legal advice from an experienced lawyer before going through with a case. Reach out to us today or call 1800 004 878 to speak to a representative.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts or email your enquiry.