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I was dismayed to read that the pedestrian death toll on Scotland’s roads has reached five by the 6 January 2011. I was even more astonished to read that the deaths occurred within the space of 24 hours. It appears as though three of these deaths involved people walking along roads, being struck by vehicles travelling on the same road. The other two deaths involved an elderly couple crossing a street in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, when they were struck by a heavy goods vehicle.

These incidents are devastating and I hope that the families of the victims realise that they have personal injury claims for the loss of their loved ones. It may be assumed that if a pedestrian is on a public road and is struck by a vehicle that has a right to be on that road, then the pedestrian is at fault. Nothing could be further from the truth. In road traffic accidents such as these, it is up to the driver of the vehicle to drive with due care and attention for other road users including pedestrians. The bottom line is that the pedestrians are not invisible, even at night. However, when dealing with personal injury claims involving serious accidents like this, there is a concept known as contributory negligence that comes into play. This concept is to acknowledge that there may be some degree of fault on behalf of a pedestrian which may result in a  percentage deduction from any damages obtained as a result of making a compensation claim.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent such accidents other than telling pedestrians to ensure that they wear clothing which illuminates them in the dark and always to walk in the lane against the flow of traffic. Also, drivers should be educated to be more vigilant, especially at this time of year with people walking home from parties and other social gatherings in the dark. It may be time for the government to dust down the public awareness campaign issued by them a few decades ago.

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