Pay attention to your surroundings and don’t run into trouble
This festive season, our beaches and public spaces are all open as normal. That means the popular Sea Point Promenade, in Cape Town’s Sea Point suburb, is likely to be busy with walkers, runners, skateboarders, cyclists, dogs, and people on scooters. All of these prom users will be going at different speeds, with varying degrees of mobility, agility, and predictability. We want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday season, so it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings and keep half an eye out for the unexpected while enjoying the prom. One pedestrian failed to do this, and suffered personal injury as a result. But the court found she was 70% to blame for the incident. Here’s what happened:
A running race included the Sea Point promenade in its route. The promenade was not closed to other users, and a pedestrian was out for a Sunday walk with a friend. She was asked by two participants in the “fun walk” category of the race to take their picture, which she happily agreed to do. As she crossed the path of the race to give the camera back to its owner, she was knocked down by an elite runner who ran straight into her. The runner may have shouted a warning; she may have pushed the pedestrian out of the way. Those two facts are not confirmed. But the pedestrian was injured and eventually required hip replacement surgery. All because she was a good Samaritan and agreed to take a photo of two walkers.
The injured party later died of unrelated causes, and her estate brought a claim against the race organiser and the runner who knocked the woman over. The estate’s executor sued both for personal injury damages totalling R718,000.
The court’s findings
The race organiser and marshall in the vicinity of the accident were cleared of any responsibility for the incident.
The runner was found to be negligent, in that she should have been more aware of the risks involved with running a race in a public space used by other pedestrians. She should have paid attention to the path ahead of her, rather than “running as if in a bubble, oblivious to what was happening around her and intent only on achieving her goal of winning the race”.
However, the runner’s proportion of the total negligence was deemed to be 30%. The pedestrian herself had been more negligent than the runner, representing 70% of the total. Therefore the estate was entitled to only 30% of the damages claimed. The court’s reasoning was that the pedestrian was fully aware there was a race on, indeed had agreed to take a photo of participants, and knew that more serious runners were coming through at speed.
The moral of this sad story is that it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. A moment’s inattention can be life-changing. Many accidents are exactly that – accidents. We are in the wrong place at the wrong time and something happens that could not have been prevented. A car skidding in wet weather is an example. But many more accidents are avoidable. We teach children to look both ways before crossing a road and then look again. But as adults we often forget to exercise a similar degree of caution, just like the victim in this case.
This festive season, particularly in Cape Town and our seaside towns which are inundated with holiday makers, take an extra 30 seconds out of your life to be sure it is safe to cross the road, proceed at a robot, or walk across the path of a race. It might just save your life, or at least prevent a hip replacement!
If you do suffer injury at the hands of another and you need a lawyer, contact attorney Simon Dippenaar at SD Law on 086 099 5146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. SD Law is in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Our offices will close on 23 December and re-open on 9 January.
The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.