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Driver’s duty to alighting passengers

In Fleming v Shoobridge 8/7/09 [2009] ACTSC 80 [(2009) 53 MVR 138] Master Harper considered liability in the case of a P who had his hand though the driver’s window of a car owned by D on the interior door handle. P was to remove his hand before his girlfriend Tracey drove off, but unexpectedly was unable to as it got caught. Tracey, unaware of this, did drive off and P was injured as he was dragged along a few metres. Tracey was found to be negligent as she should have delayed her departure until she was sure P was clear of the vehicle, just as was found in the earlier case of Ratclifffe v Jackson (1993) 18 MVR 297 where a passenger had alighted from a car, but had her clothing caught in a door. The P, Mr Fleming, not considered negligent at all.

See Grigoriadis v Sidiropoulos 13/9/19 [2019] NSWDC 486 where Levy SC DCJ found D wholly negligent when he drove off not realizing P’s long coat was caught in his rear passenger door. “At best, the plaintiff’s actions amounted to no more than a casual moment of inattention, in poor light conditions … She had safely alighted from the vehicle …The fact that her coat was caught in the door does not of itself give rise to a finding of contributory negligence against her” @276. P “was, initially unaware that her coat was caught in the closed door. If she had been given the chance to step away, she might have come to that realisation earlier than she did. … Unfortunately, the first defendant did not hear the plaintiff’s attempts to attract his attention to make him aware of the situation. He simply proceeded to drive away” @278.