Can I sue for an unlit skip?

A few weeks ago I was riding my bike, at night, along a poorly lit road having just finished my shift.  I was travelling within the speed limit when I suddenly noticed an unlit large object parked about 10 or so metres away from me in the carriageway. I had no time to stop. I tried to swerve but wasn’t able to in time and instead I collided with what turned out to be an unlit skip. I broke my ankle and will now be off work for a few months. Do I have a claim?
Darren Roberts, London

Answer

You may have a claim.  Section 139 of the Highways Act 1980 deals specifically with skips that are deposited on carriageways. It states that the relevant highway authority may impose conditions that relate to the siting of the skip, its dimensions, its colour and lighting to make sure the skip is immediately visible to oncoming traffic.

As the skip was unlit then this is indicative that it may be found to have constituted both an obstruction and a source of danger to road users.  This would be enough to succeed in negligence.

However, the Defendant will likely raise contributory negligence arguments for not keeping as good a lookout as you ought to.  It is not unforeseeable that you could be found largely at fault so it would be sensible to instruct a specialist solicitor to make sure you achieve the best possible result.

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