Seriously injured Cyclist obtains Judgement against driver of HGV vehicle
Ildiko Skulteti, aged 35, was cycling along Southampton Row, London on 11th July 2011. A van was parked in the bus lane and so she rode down the centre of the road, passing a large HGV vehicle as she did so. The HGV vehicle was stationery in the traffic. She then stopped in front of the HGV waiting for the traffic to move ahead when traffic lights ahead turned to green.
Unfortunately, the HGV vehicle driven by an employee of XL Video did not have its Class VI mirror correctly adjusted. Class VI mirrors are sometimes known as Cyclops or front blind spot mirrors and eliminate the blind spot immediately in front of a HGV van. Because it was not adjusted correctly the driver could not see Ildiko.
The HGV driver moved forward, closing the gap between it and a car in front, in doing so he went over Ildiko. He did not realise that he had hit her and she was dragged beneath the vehicle before it stopped. The HGV driver was alerted to a problem by a coach driver travelling in the opposite direction. He got out of his vehicle, initially believing that someone had thrown a bike underneath the front of his vehicle. It was not until someone told him that there was a person beneath that he appreciated the severity of the situation and that Ildiko was in fact underneath the vehicle. Ildiko was taken to hospital for emergency surgery.
Ildiko has had a slow recovery. She spent nearly 2 months in hospital undergoing various surgeries. She had suffered a very nasty injury to her ankle for which she is still having treatment. She also suffered spinal fractures, a shattered pelvis, a badly broken leg, lung damage and a head injury. She now walks with a stick and is still undergoing surgery.
The Claim was due to go to trial to determine liability in July. The defence initially denied any responsibility for the accident stating that the Claimant had placed herself in an unsafe position. This was despite the fact that it was known that the proper adjustment of the Class VI mirror would have avoided the accident. But at a meeting between the parties, Ildiko's lawyer Jill Greenfield of Field Fisher Waterhouse reached an agreement with the driver's insurers whereby they accepted that he bore the majority (80%) of the responsibility for the accident. The value of the case is yet to be determined.
Jill Greenfield the solicitor said:
"What is particularly upsetting about this accident is that the mirror was actually on the vehicle and someone either didn't know how to adjust it or simply didn't bother to adjust it. HGV's in central London are a real hazard to cyclists, that is clear, and such simple steps reduce lives and serious injuries such as these."
Ildiko Skulteti added:
"Driver's perceptions of road cyclists need to be changed so they're not treated as second-class citizens. It's very sad that drivers don't take the effort to correctly use their equipment to ensure the safety of more vulnerable road users. If the UK government really want to promote cycling they need to take steps to reassure people that it is safe and that they take accidents such as mine seriously."