Welcome settlement for cyclist whose back was broken by HGV | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Welcome settlement for cyclist whose back was broken by HGV

Jennifer was pleased to secure a seven-figure settlement for an experienced cyclist who suffered severe spinal injury after she was dragged off her bike and under the wheels of an HGV on Whitechapel High Street in 2017.

Sarah Heanaghan, 29, originally from New Zealand, was the bar manager of a City restaurant and regularly cycled the same route to work.

Following the accident, which happened as she was turning right onto Commercial Road, Ms Heanaghan was left in a wheelchair and was diagnosed with severe depression and PTSD. She can no longer do her job.

Looking to turn right, Sarah overtook the lorry at the traffic lights and believed that she had positioned herself far enough in front of the lorry to be clearly in the eye line of the driver.

As the driver turned right, however, he pulled ahead of Ms Heanaghan and she and her bicycle were sucked under the wheels of the lorry. She remembers feeling as if her hair was being ripped out before she blacked out and woke up in the middle of the road believing she was dying.

In a defence statement, the driver said that he did not see Ms Heanaghan in any of his mirrors. The internal display monitor in his cab connected to CCTV cameras on the lorry at the time was only positioned to show the nearside of the HGV.

The air ambulance took Ms Heanaghan to Royal London where she had three operations in two months. She then spent a further three months undergoing rehabilitation at Stanmore hospital. She eventually left hospital in a wheelchair and had to move into adapted accommodation, originally paid for with her savings. Her family all live in New Zealand, meaning she had little help to call upon.

At the time, the police were incorrectly informed that the accident was not life threatening or life changing so failed to pass the case onto the collision investigation team and are therefore unable to prosecute the driver. The police witness report, however, confirmed that the driver should have seen Ms Heanaghan.

Jennifer therefore secured funds from the insurer of the vehicle to pay for the right rehabilitation, adapted accommodation and financial support to enable Sarah to get back some quality of life and progress as far as possible under life-changing circumstances.

Jennifer also said it was difficult to understand why this type of HGV so high off the ground and with restricted vison is even allowed on London roads.

"Sarah's case must yet again emphasise that direct vision lorries (DVLs) with low cabs are an absolute necessity, regardless of the cost to the construction industry. When people's lives are threatened, surely it's a done deal."

Following settlement, Sarah said: "Thank you for being such an important and integral part of my journey through this. You fought so hard in my corner and thanks to you, made my life and my family's life better and easier. I will be forever grateful for your help and compassion and strength!"

Contact us

For further information about road traffic accident claims, cycling accident claims and spinal injury claims, please call Jennifer Buchanan on 03304606774 or email jennifer.buchanan@fieldfisher.com.


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.