The Penshurst Car Accident in 1910 - Part 1

This is an interesting story.

On April the 8th 1910, there was a road accident in Bell Street Penshurst. Stanley Hutton run over Edward Cameron in a motor car. The ensuing battle for compensation by Edward Cameron against Stanley Hutton ended up in the Hamilton County Court. The Hamilton Spectator ran an excellent story over the length of the trial. The following is the Spectators reporting of the incident. You may note that many of the towns well know people are named in the article.

Hamilton Spectator. Monday 8th August 1910

Motor Accident Case

An interesting case, arising out of a motor accident, which occurred at Penshurst on April 8, will be heard at the Hamilton County Court tomorrow.

The plaintiff is Edward Cameron, of Penshurst, fruiterer, who claims £500 damages from Stanley Hutton, of the same place, grazier, for injuries alleged to be sustained through being run over in Bell Street by the defendant's motorcar.

The defense is a denial .of negligence and contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff. The proceedings were originally launched in the Supreme Court but were remitted to the county court by consent of parties. The case will be heard by a special jury. Mr, Westacott plaintiff, and Mr. Kilpatrick instructed by Mr. Molesworth for the defendant.

Hamilton Spectator. Wednesday 10 August 1910

Penshurst Motor Accident £500 Damages Claimed Action in County Court.

In the County Court at Hamilton yesterday before Acting Judge Neighbour and a jury of four, Edward Cameron, of Penshurst, fruiter proceeded against Stanley Hutton of the same place, grazier, for the recovery of £500 damages, on account of injuries sustained by him through being run over by the defendant's motor-car.

Mr. Westacott appeared for the plaintiff and Mr. Kilpatrick (instructed by Mr. Molesworth) for the defendant.

The following jury was impanelled: — J. Healy, J Sharp, W. McDonald, and E. Pelchen.

Mr. Westacott opened the case for the plaintiff.

The accident occurred in Bell Street, Penshurst, on the night of April 8th last. The plaintiff was knocked down by the car driven by the defendant. He was struck on the back and received such injuries that he was confined to his bed for some time. His head was cut, his suit of clothes destroyed, his back was injured and he was incapacitated from indulging in sports or playing a brass instrument.

The right was dark, and the street was the principal thoroughfare. The occurrence took place just before the arrival of the train. The motor was going downhill towards the railway station, and the defendant did not sound the horn or bell. The plaintiff was walking on the left-hand side for 120 yards towards the station. When he came out of his shop no cab was in sight, but as he walked a cab overtook him, and the cab was overtaken by the motor-car. The defendant disobeyed the regulation in regard to carrying a light, sounding a bell, and the rule of the road, and he was negligent to that extent. His Honour said that for the present he would reject the evidence as to regulations until he bad had an opportunity of considering the Motor Act and the regulations under it.

Mobirise

Bell Street when it had the high slopes on either side

Mr. Westacott proceeded with his address. The plaintiff was walking on the left side of the road when the motor came up. Instead of swerving to the right, as it should have done, it pulled to the left and ran into the plaintiff, inflicting the injuries complained of. The plaintiff was taken to a doctor and was nursed for several weeks. After the accident, the defendant exclaimed: “Why, Cameron, I never saw you."

Later on, he went to plaintiff and said he would pay his expenses, which showed that he recognized he was to blame for the occurrence. The defense was no negligence, contributory negligence, and that the accident was entirely due to plaintiff's own fault.

Arguments were then heard as to the admissibility of the Motor-car Act and regulations as evidence.

Finally, his Honour allowed the regulations to be put in. The following testimony was then given: — Edward Cameron, the plaintiff, stated: I am a fruiterer, of Penshurst I know the defendant. On April 8 in the evening after seven o'clock, I was at my shop. About 7.20 I left my shop, which is on the left side of Bell-street, going to the railway station. I walked into the road in front of the shop and went towards the station. It was a dark night. I saw a cab in front of Mrs. A. Olle's house, opposite my shop.

I did not see any motor-car. From my place to the station is a gradual slope downhill. I had walked on about 120 yards when I was run over by a motor-car. I was walking on the left side, and the cab passed me and I then got the bump. I was off the metal on the tabling. I was walking between three and four miles an hour. The occurrence took place on the side of the road near Mc Nee's place. The cab was just passing me and I got a bump on the leg first, and then I was hit on the back, the next thing I found myself underneath a motor car, with a hind near wheel on top of me. This was on the metal near the edge of the grass. A man named Edward Carmichael was driving the cab. At the time I was struck the cab was passing me on the right side.

I did not hear the car coming or any warning to indicate that a car was coming. I saw no lights to indicate approaching danger. Subsequently, I saw lights in the car. They did not seem too bright. There were two ladies in the car. The defendant, after the car was moved off me came up and asked “who is it” I said “it’s me “Oh it's you, Cameron. Good”. Cameron, I never saw you till I felt the bump and heard the ladies squeal. Get in the car and I'll take to the doctor s. "I told him I could not get in on account of the pain in my back. He assisted me a little into the car. I was bruised and cut about the head. I produce the suit of clothes I wore on the occasion. (Witness showed the rents the car had made of clothes.)

I paid £4/7/6 for the suit and had to buy a new suit to replace them. There was blood all over my head and face. The defendant lent me his handkerchief to wipe my face. My own handkerchief was saturated with blood. When I was in bed defendant said I had spoiled a suit of clothes for him as the blood from my head went straight through his clothes to his skin.

The cab was passing on my right side, on the left side of the metal. I went in the motor car to the doctor s, after which defendant drove me to Mrs. Black's, where I went to bed. I was in bed ten days. Dr. Sweetnam, the defendant's brother-in-law, attending me. I am a lodge patient, and it cost me nothing for the doctor .or chemist. I was on the lodge for 5 ½ weeks. When I got I went away for a change being away for less than three weeks. The trip costs about £14.

I am still suffering in my back. The doctor did not order me away. During the first week in bed, I could not move, I could not walk well when getting up. I can't walk well now, and I can’t run. I always feel tired about the back, and can't lie down long. If I sit down long I get tired. I have nightmares, nearly every night. This is a new experience since the accident. I can't sleep well, and my appetite is not good as it was. I could not now follow the occupation I used to do. I cannot play football now, nor can I play a brass instrument in the band as it makes my head giddy.

I saw the defendant the day after the accident. He said he was awfully sorry having run over me, and he would sooner have been run over himself as he had run over me a dozen times in his sleep that night.

Two or three days afterward he told me he was willing to pay expenses if I did not sue him. He said if I intended to sue him I would have, to get them. I said I did not feel inclined to talk about them then, but I would speak to him when I got better. I have received nothing from him. I did not see him anymore about the matter.

Mr. Molesworth (defendant's solicitor) saw me some weeks after my last interview with him. He said Mr. Hutton had told him he was not prepared to take any blame or blame me or say whose fault it was. He said I had better write him a letter which he would show to Mr. Hutton. I did not write to him. Later I saw my solicitor and caused a letter to be written. Mr. Molesworth replied asking what I considered fair and reasonable compensation. (A number of letters which had passed between the solicitors were then read and put in.)

There was plenty of space on the right-hand side of the cab for the defendant to pass. Mr. Winter Cooke a candidate for the Federal Parliament was speaking in Penshurst .that night. Mrs. Black attended me while I was in bed. I reckon it would be a fair thing to pay her 3 pounds 3 shillings a week for the way I was treated. I had special food. She did not agree to do the nursing and food for nothing.

I’m a fruiterer. After the accident for 6 weeks, I was not able to attend to my business. Garnet Eales did so for me. During that time the takings were much less. Mr. Kilpatrick objected to this evidence, and his Honour upheld the objection, holding that the damage from this source was too remote.

Plaintiff continued — Eales is a boy aged 15 or 16; 15/ to £1 would be fair wages for him. One day the defendant told me the mudguard was bent, where it hit me. I produce a tear from the back of the trousers I had on when injured.

Cross-examined by Mr. Kilpatrick: I got the suit in Penshurst. There are hundreds of buckles like this. I got the buckle from Chesswas who is my landlord. I agreed to pay him 5/ a week, but I owe him since the day I went into the shop in October. I have paid him nothing. I have not agreed to pay Eales anything. I pay Mrs. Black 5/ a week for breakfast and bed. I suppose I owe her £2. I told her I would pay her well for nursing. She is not a professional nurse. After the accident defendant offered to pay my expenses. He did not say he was not liable for the accident. He said he would pay my expenses, but if I sued him I would have to get them. The defendant did not add that it was purely my own fault. I was going to the train on business. The width of Bell Street from curb to curb is 1 ½ chains. There is a slope from the footpath to the metal. I have not noticed any rough stones cropping out of the surface. I cannot say whether the slope is red clay or not. I have lived in Penshurst all my life. (Witness marked on the plan the spot where the accident occurred.) When I saw the cab first it was coming from the National Bank, and when I reached the metal it was pulled up at Olle's opposite me. It followed me along the road, and I got on the edge of the road to get out of its way. I was on the slope at the time, about the gutter.

I came down to the road to get a lift in the cab but someone got into the cab at Olle's and I preferred to walk. When other people had paid I did not like to get in for nothing. I did not shoot out to get into the cab when the motor ran over me.

When I got out of bed I went to Colac and then to Warrnambool. I was there for one day of the races and went on the course. I went to Portland whence I went to Bridgewater and thence to Hamilton.

To His Honour: I may have lost £2 at the Warrnambool races.

To Mr. Kilpatrick. The Warrnambool races were about a fortnight after the accident. When knocked down I was sick. I called out to defendant something. I could not say what it was. It may have been “Wait a minute."

Re-Examined by Mr. Westacott: The photograph produced represents the scene of the accident. I went away with the doctor's sanction. I was on the lodge for five weeks with the doctor's sanction.

At this stage, the court adjourned to the next morning at 10.5.

Continued on Page 2.

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