TRAM ACCIDENTS: DO THEY GO IN THE PORTALS?
An accident involving a tram is clearly a road traffic accident and could also be an employers’ liability case, for example where the injured person is an employee, or a public liability case.
However section 4.3(11) of the Employers’ Liability and Public Liability Protocol provides that that portal does not apply to a claim
“for damages arising out of a road traffic accident (as defined in paragraph 1.1(16) of the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents).”
The scope of the RTA Protocol is defined as follows:-
“4.1. This Protocol applies where—
- a claim for damages arises from a road traffic accident where the CNF is submitted on or after 31 July 2013”
The key question is whether an accident involving a tram is a road traffic accident. The definitions under the protocol read:-
“1.1. In this Protocol—
(13) ‘motor vehicle’ means a mechanically propelled vehicle intended for use on roads…
(15) ‘road’ means any highway and any other road to which the public has access and includes bridges over which a road passes;
(16) ‘road traffic accident’ means an accident resulting in bodily injury to any person caused by, or arising out of, the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place in England and Wales unless the injury was caused wholly or in part by a breach by the defendant of one or more of the relevant statutory provisions as defined by section 53 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974;”
An RTA is therefore an accident resulting in bodily injury to any person caused by, or arising out of, the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place in England and Wales.
Is a tram a motor vehicle?
The definition of motor vehicle under the protocol is limited but the Road Traffic Act 1988 specifically defines both motor vehicle and tram car.
Section 185 of that Act defines a motor vehicle as:-
“”motor car” means a mechanically propelled vehicle, not being a motor cycle or an invalid carriage, which is constructed itself to carry a load or passengers and the weight of which unladen—
- if it is constructed solely for the carriage of passengers and their effects, is adapted to carry not more than seven passengers exclusive of the driver and is fitted with tyres of such type as may be specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State, does not exceed 3050 kilograms,
- if it is constructed or adapted for use for the conveyance of goods or burden of any description, does not exceed 3050 kilograms, or 3500 kilograms if the vehicle carries a container or containers for holding for the purposes of its propulsion any fuel which is wholly gaseous at 17.5 degrees Celsius under a pressure of 1.013 bar or plant and materials for producing such fuel,
- does not exceed 2540 kilograms in a case not falling within sub-paragraph (a) or (b) above,”
It is true that that is the definition of the motor car whereas the Road Traffic Accident Protocol refers to a motor vehicle and clearly that includes all sorts of motor vehicles which are not cars.
However Section 192 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 specifically defines a tram car:-
““tramcar” includes any carriage used on any road by virtue of an order under the Light Railways Act 1896, and
“trolley vehicle” means a mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use on roads without rails power transmitted to it from some external source”
Given the separate definition I do not believe that a tram would fall under the RTA Protocol definition of a motor vehicle. The RTA Portal Claim Notification Form does not lend itself to a claim involving a tram; what would one put as the vehicle registration number for example?
The Pre-Action Protocol for low value personal injury (employers’ liability and public liability) claims defines a public liability claim as:-
“(18) ‘public liability claim’—
(a) means a claim for damages for personal injuries arising out of a breach of a statutory or common law duty of care made against—
- a person other than the claimant’s employer…”
Thus a claim involving a tram car and a member of the public would fall under this broad definition but if the claim was by a driver or conductor or member of staff on tram car then it would fall under the Employers’ Liability Provision.
Actions for damages arising out of a road traffic accident, as defined in paragraph 1.1(16) of the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents are specifically excluded from the Employers’ Liability and Public Liability Portal, presumably to stop road traffic accidents attracting the higher fees in that portal.
However as set out above my view is that a tram car is not a motor vehicle and therefore does not come within the definition in paragraph 1.1(16) and so is not excluded from the Employers’ Liability and Public Liability Portal.
Consequently a tram car accident cannot go into the Road Traffic Accident Portal but can, in appropriate circumstances, go into the Employers’ Liability and Public Liability Portal.