the personal injury and clinical negligence blog

A collaboration between Rebmark Legal Solutions and 1 Chancery Lane

Children, car seats, parental responsibility and the law

Choosing car seats is an agonising and expensive process for parents.  Group 0? Group 0+? Straight to a Group 2 or via Group1?  Rearward facing to age 4 or forward facing from age 1?  It is confusing, stressful and wrapped up with heavy societal pressure to be a "good parent".  Like seatbelts and cycle helmets the courts have now had to turn their minds to a case that considers a parent's liability when a child is injured in an accident caused by a third party driver, but whose injuries probably would have been reduced had she been placed in a different type of seat. 

In Williams v Williams [2013] EWCA Civ 455 the claim concerned an accident in August 2006.  Louise Williams placed her daughter, Emma, on a booster seat secured by an adult seatbelt.  Miss Williams believed that in doing so Emma would be safe.  Emma was three years old at the time.  They were involved in an accident that was entirely the fault of Dwayne Williams (unrelated to them) who crossed onto the wrong side of the road and collided with their car.  Emma was both too young and too short to be travelling on the booster seat and, according to manufacturers' guidelines and expert evidence, should have been secured in a car seat with a five point harness.  Miss Williams, although well intentioned, had placed her daughter in the wrong type of safety equipment.  The Court of Appeal upheld the first instance finding that Miss Williams was 25% responsible for her daughter's injuries. 

When determining the level of contributory negligence, Black LJ endorsed the approach of the judge at first instance in starting with the case of Froom v Butcher [1976] 2 QB 296.  Most readers will remember that Froom was authority for the guideline deduction of 25% in seatbelt cases.  Black LJ highlighted the relevance of Lord Denning's reasoning in Froom to the situation of Miss Williams in this case.  It seems likely that this percentage will apply in the future to cases of this sort. 

  • mic market

    5/7/2013 9:54:37 AM |

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post..

Comments are closed