Mother badly injured in road accident sues police for £200,000

A Scalloway woman who was seriously injured in a bad road accident near Lerwick is suing Northern Constabulary for £200,000 for injury and damage.

Rachel Rosie, a married woman with three young sons, suffered head injuries, a broken collar bone and cuts after her Peugeot car collided with a lorry that was travelling in front of her on 15th August 2006.

The six wheeler was in the process of turning into Brydon Peterson’s compound off the three-lane stretch of the North Road when the accident happened.

Mrs Rosie claims the lorry was prevented from exiting the fast main road because a police patrol car was sitting in the cattle grid – hidden from view by two walls – which leads into the Peterson plant. The area was used regularly by Northern Constabulary to catch speeding drivers.

In a ruling by Sheriff Graeme Napier on where the civil case should be heard, released to The Shetland Times, it is stated that Mrs Rosie’s car collided with the lorry as its tail-end was left exposed on the road.

Mrs Rosie tried to make an emergency stop and swerved to the left when a van she was overtaking – which had been travelling between her and the lorry – pulled to the right to avoid hitting the trailer.

An oncoming car from the opposite direction prevented her from pulling out wide to avoid the hazard altogether. However she was unable to avoid crashing into the lorry, which was still blocking the nearside lane.

“The pursuer avers that the accident was caused by the fault of the police vehicle in such a way that the motor lorry’s route was blocked and that it would have been avoided if sufficient space had been left for vehicles exiting the main road,” Sheriff Napier wrote.

As well as her physical injuries, Mrs Rosie suffered psychological problems, including “an alleged change in personality, an inability to concentrate, a lack of initiative and inappropriate emotional responses”.

She was rendered unconscious, “having suffered head injuries, including intra-cerebral bleeding to the frontal lobe, intra-ventricular haemorrhage, right third and fourth nerve palsy and a fractured clavicle”.

She continues to suffer pain and inconvenience and a lack of dexterity in her right hand, the findings stated.

Her case against Northern Constabulary has yet to reach a conclusion.

In the main, the papers released relate to an attempt by the police to have the case dealt with by the Court of Session in Edinburgh rather than in Lerwick.

Lawyers acting for Northern Constabulary argued complex issues of attributability and liability would be better discussed in Edinburgh.

They also cited significant additional expense if expert witnesses were required to travel to Lerwick from south.

However Sheriff Napier ruled the case should be dealt with at the local court.

“I do not consider that any of the factors identified by the defender in this case indicate any practical or procedural difficulties which would make proceedings in the Court of Session more appropriate,” he said.

“Nor … do I consider that the circumstances of the accident itself … make this case lie outwith the margins …of cases which should be litigated in the Sheriff Court.

“There may well be some convenience to some witnesses (although Edinburgh may in fact be no more convenient to those witnesses than Shetland) or to counsel in proceeding in Edinburgh. But convenience alone cannot justify a remit.

“In any event, in my view, any such convenience is outweighed by the inconvenience and expense which would be occasioned to the pursuer being forced to litigate in a forum not of her choice, many miles from her home.”

The case will be heard in October.

Mrs Rosie was not available for comment when contacted by The Shetland Times.


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