5.The Appellants fault the trial Magistrate on two fronts:
6.To discredit PW2’s (the alleged eye witness) evidence, the appellants stated in cross examination, that he could not remember how many lanes are at Mombasa road, or whether the deceased rider changed lanes bringing himself in front of the lorry abruptly; and further that the Traffic Police Officer - PW1 could not shed light on the occurrence of the accident as he was not at the scene when it occurred; that other than producing the OB, Police abstract, and a sketch plan of the scene of accident, he could not produce the police file stating on cross examination that it could not be traced thus relied on the OB and the Police Abstract for his evidence.
7.By the above, the Appellants submit that the Lorry driver’s (DWI) evidence was more compelling and credible, that the deceased was at fault by changing lanes causing the lorry driver to ram on the motor cycle from behind.It is the Appellants submissions that this evidence was not challenged, and therefore urges the court to apportion liability at 50:50 basis.
8.The Respondent by his submissions is of a different opinion stating that its witnesses the investigating officer (PW1) and (PW2) the alleged eye witness evidence was sufficient to place full liability on the Appellants.
9.There is no dispute over the occurrence of the accident as clearly evidenced by the police abstract, and admission and confirmation by the driver of the vehicle (DW1).By the evidence placed before the trial court, the Lorry and the motorcycle were being driven towards the same direction, and were going uphill along Imara Daima towards Nairobi City.
10.There is also no counter evidence that the motorcycle was not in front of the lorry and was hit by the lorry by its bumper while on the same lane with the lorry.The question is therefore whether the motorcycle suddenly changed lane from the left lane, and to the middle lane infront of the lorry as testified to by the driver of the lorry (DW1) such that he could not take action as to avoid the accident.
11.In his evidence, DW1-lorry driver stated:
12.Further, on cross examination, DW1 (driver) testified thatUpon re-examination, the driver (DW1) stated that he could see the motorcyclist from the side windscreen while he was on the left lane.
13.As to the evidence of PW2 the alleged witness, his evidence is full of contradictions. It cannot be relied on by the court to come to a well-informed finding. This witness in my view may not have witnessed the occurrence of the accident, but could have just been around among the mob, at the accident scene. His evidence that he blamed the driver of the lorry cannot be taken seriously save that the lorry hit the motorcycle from behind, a fact admitted by the lorry driver himself.
14.There is an alleged sketch plan produced by the Respondent and stated to be found at page 162 of the Record of Appeal.I have perused the record. No such document is attached thereto.
15.I have also looked at the Supplementary Record of Appeal at page 340-345. No such sketch plan is attached thereto, or elsewhere at the entire record.I shall therefore not consider the submissions on the matter of the sketch plan. The Respondent failed to call any evidence to persuade the court that the deceased could have abruptly changed lanes and brought himself infront of the lorry leaving the lorry driver with no option but to ram onto the motor cycle from behind without taking any evasive action so as to avoid the accident.What is important however is that the driver of the lorry admitted in very many words in his evidence in chief and on cross examination that he rammed onto the motorcycle from behind, as he was behind the motorcycle; and that indeed he had seen the said motorcycle from his left side mirror, from his lane.
16.Evidence by PW1 PC Hussein was that the driver of the lorry failed to keep safe distance as a result rammed onto the motorcycle.
17.In my view, this evidence is more credible more so as the lorry driver admitted having rammed on to the rear of the motorcycle.
18.He further testified that without the police file, he could not say anything as to whether or not the motorcyclist moved ahead of the traitor; stating that:
20.The question therefore that begs an answer is which of the two lethal weapons, the vehicle or the motorcycle caused the accident and or contributed to the said accident, and if so, to what extent.
22.Further, in Kiema Muthungu vs Kenya Cargo Handling Service Ltd  2, it was held that:See also Brian Muchiri Waihenya V Jubilee Hauliers Ltd & 2 others  eKLR.The standard of proof in a traffic accident is beyond reasonable doubt, and even when one of the parties is convicted for a traffic offence, it is still not conclusive proof that the defendant is fully to blame.
23.In perspective therefore, the Appellants blame the deceased for the causation of the accident and has urged that the trial court's decisions be set aside, and to apportion liability between the two parties.
24.In view of lorry driver’s express evidence on how the accident occurred, and there having been zero assistance from the traffic police officers who visited the scene of accident well over five hours after the accident, and further taking into account the rider of the motorcycle died in the said accident, this court finds and holds that the trial Magistrate did not err in finding that the lorry driver was the cause of the accident.
25.The driver of the accident vehicle testified to have seen the deceased using his vehicles’ left side mirror. If indeed it is true that the deceased changed lanes and rode on the front of his lorry, he ought to have taken some erasive actions to try to avoid the accident. He had a duty and obligation slow down, swerve or stop or to keep safe distance as he stated to have seen the alleged events unfold.
26.This is what the court observed in the case of Masembe V Sugar Corporation & Another (2002) 2EA434 when it stated; -
27.It is clearly on record that the 2nd appellant, despite testifying that he saw the motorcycle rider trying to overtake another trailer, he took no reasonable steps or at all to prevent a foreseeable danger. He did nothing, and simply rammed onto the back of the motorcycle that obviously he could clearly see in front of his lorry.To that extent, I am persuaded that the 2nd Appellant failed in his expectation as a reasonable driver to try and avoid the accident. It matters not that he was not charged with any traffic offence.
28.With all due respect to the Appellants, there is no difficulty in finding out who between the two was to blame, in view of the evidence adduced before the court.Obviously, the lorry driver (2nd Appellant) saw the motorcycle infront of his lorry. He simply did not slow down or swerve or in any other manner try to avoid ramming onto the motorcycle.On the other aspect, I do not fault the trial Magistrate for arriving at the same finding; save that he did not analyze the evidence on record in depth, or if he did, he did not record the same.
29.I therefore find no plausible reason to interfere with the trial court’s finding on liability.
30.On the matter of bias by the trial magistrate, nothing turns on the complaint as no evidence has been placed before this court to warrant any adverse action against the said trial magistrate.Suffice to state that harsh language in a judgment should be avoided as it may raise questions as to the independence and motive of the court.Liability is therefore upheld at 100% against the Appellants jointly and severally.That arm of the appeal is dismissed.Quantum of damages
31.The only issue on this sub-head, in my view is on the assessment of damages for loss of dependency and in particular the multiplier.The deceased was 22 years old when he met his death.
32.The trial Magistrate in his Judgment observed that the deceased would have worked for at least 35 years before attaining the retirement age of 60 years, and would have spend at least 1/3 of his undisputed income of Kshs 7000/- to support his parents.He therefore stated that he would apply a multiplier of 30 years as proposed by the Defendants in their submissions. This was upon taking into account by vagaries and uncertainties of life.
33.However, and this is the bone of contention by the parties, when calculating or assessing the damages, the trial Magistrate applied a multiplier of 35 years, to arrive at Kshs 980,000/= as loss of dependency, instead of 30 years he had stated he would apply.Obviously, there is a glaring contradiction by the trial court.Having stated that he would apply a multiplier of 30 years, then I agree with the Appellants that he erred to that extent.
34.This is well captured in the Appellants’ submissions, who again have urged the court to set aside the adoption of 35 years and adopt a multiplier of 25 years.
35.For the Respondent, it is submitted that the multiplier of 35 adopted by the trial Magistrate was not based on the figure proposed by the Appellants but the available facts including the age of the deceased, his health at the time of his death and his occupation.I agree that the awards made by the trial Magistrate cannot be termed as excessive in the circumstances.
36.Having considered the trial Magistrate’s pronouncement on what he wished to apply as the multiplier, and giving reasons for the same, I come to a conclusion that, in my view, the multiplier of 35 years as opposed to 30 years was a slip of the pen, an error that can easily be corrected. From the tone of both parties submissions, a multiplier of 30 years would be welcome. This court will adopt the same.
37.I shall therefore re-calculate the award under the subhead – loss of dependency as hereunder:7,000 X 12 X30 X1/3 – 840,000/=Consequently, and in conclusion, the Appeal herein succeeds partially and the awards in general damages are re-assessed as follows:a.Liability at 100% against the Appellants upheldb.Pain and suffering - Kshs. 30,000/= upheldc.Loss of expectation of life - Kshs. 150,000/=upheldd.Loss of dependency - Kshs. 840,000/=Total - Kshs. 1,020,000/=e.Special damages - Kshs. 11,750/= upheldf.Interest on special damages shall accrue interest at court rates from date of filing the lower court suit; while interest on the general damages shall accrue from date of the trial court’s judgment; including the re-assessed damages.
Each party shall bear own costs of the appeal.Orders accordingly.