Is a bee sting a defence?

In August I was out riding my Honda Blackbird when a taxi came across from the other side of the road and hit me knocking me off and injuring me. The taxi driver blamed his swerve on an insect bite on his hand and his lawyers are arguing I have no case for compensation. They say their client was not negligent as the sting caused the loss of control and it was not his fault. Apparently he had his windows open and claims something stung him causing him to veer across the road suddenly. How can this be right – I didn’t do anything wrong and got taken out!
Ian, by e-mail

Answer

Your opponent’s lawyers are relying on a legal defence known as “automatism.” This is where someone cannot be held responsible for their actions if they had no knowledge / control of them. For example committing a crime whilst sleep walking or having an epileptic fit out of the blue whilst driving. An automatism defence can succeed where a person experiences a total loss of control through no fault of their own.

The Defendant will have to satisfy a court that he was stung and that sting caused him to swerve. You should ask for evidence such as photographs of his hand to show any evidence of a sting. Ultimately it will be down to a court to decide whether the defence is made out or if it was simply a case of driver error. I would also argue that even if he can prove he was stung, his response to being stung was wholly unreasonable.

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