Architect wins legal fight over kart crash

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AN architect who sued a Lothian go-karting centre for £50,000 after being run over by one of his colleagues during a race has won his legal battle.

Cameron Laird needed an operation to insert two screws in a fractured ankle following the crash at the Raceland karting circuit, near Gladsmuir, in East Lothian.

The 39-year-old was knocked down by a 270cc go-kart driven by fellow architect Andrew Marshall during a work night out after he got out of his own vehicle following a crash.

Lawyers for Mr Laird said track bosses were negligent because race marshals had failed to wave yellow flags to warn other racers following his crash into a tyre barrier.

The lawyers also alleged that a pre-race safety briefing at the centre had advised Mr Laird and his colleagues to get out and push their karts back on course if they went off, a manoeuvre that left them at risk from drivers following behind.

Mr Laird, whose ankle was encased in plaster for six weeks leaving him needing crutches to walk, launched the legal bid at the Court of Session in Edinburgh asking for £50,000 in damages. Karting Indoors Ltd, which operates Raceland, has settled for an undisclosed amount.

Mr Laird, who lives in Bonaly with wife Cheryl, had been racing with a group of colleagues from architecture firm 3DReid Ltd on April 25, 2008 when the accident took place.

The group had been competing on the 827-metre-long outdoor track at the centre, and were on their final race of the session at around 9.30pm when light rain started to fall. Each racer was in a kart which could reach speeds of up to 70mph.

Lawyers for University of Dundee graduate Mr Laird said their client had been leading the race when he tried to negotiate a right-hand bend and the kart failed to turn and struck the tyre barrier.

Mr Laird looked back up the straight and “as instructed” in the safety briefing, “exited his kart in order to manually manoeuvre it back on to the track”.

Unfortunately, the kart driven by Mr Marshall approached from behind and, “due to the wet weather”, also lost control and crashed into Mr Laird, who was pinned between the two karts.

Mr Laird claimed that the track marshals never waved a flag to alert other racers of the danger while neither he, nor Mr Marshall, were made aware of the effect wet weather would have on the “slick” tyres on their karts – tyres designed for dry weather driving.

Mr Laird was taken to accident and emergency at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and an X-ray revealed that he had suffered a fractured left ankle. He spent two nights at the hospital before being discharged after having screws inserted into the injured foot.

Lawyers for the karting centre, which has Scotland’s only indoor and outdoor racing circuits, had argued that the fault for the accident lay with Mr Laird. They told the court: “It was his duty to watch where he was walking. It was his duty to remain in the kart until the marshals indicated that it was safe to exit.”

Mr Laird, who now works for Mansell Construction Services, could not be reached for comment.

Raceland was asked for comment but failed to respond.