Boy Who Fell Off Quad Bike Entitled to Damages


People who are injured when riding in a vehicle driven by someone else may still be entitled to compensation even if they are partly at fault for their injuries. This was demonstrated in a recent High Court case involving a boy who was injured when he fell off a quad bike.

The boy was 16 years old and had recently finished school when the accident happened. A friend of his was driving the quad bike along a public highway when the boy fell off, suffering serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury. Two other passengers were also on board, although the quad bike was not designed to carry passengers. The friend, who was 15 years old at the time, later pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, using a motor vehicle on a public road without third-party insurance, and driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

It was conceded that the boy was at fault in agreeing to ride on the quad bike, especially as he would be positioned dangerously on it and was not wearing a helmet. However, he had expected that they would walk to their destination, only to discover when he arrived to meet his friends that they had the quad bike with them.

In considering the question of contributory negligence, the Court concluded that the boy had in effect only made one bad decision: to ride on the quad bike. He could not have done so without being in an unsafe position, and no helmets were available. It had been the friend’s decision to travel on the quad bike, and although the boy was older, his friend was more experienced with quad bikes and had been brought up with them. The Court also observed that it was necessary to take a realistic view of the fact that he arrived at his friend’s house to be told they were going to their destination by quad bike rather than on foot: given the situation he was placed in, it was not entirely surprising that he had agreed to the proposal.

The Court found that the boy’s damages should be reduced by 30 per cent to take account of his contributory negligence.

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