Particularly during Road Safety Week, it's worth highlighting the new Highway Code hierarchy prioritising the safety of cyclists over motor vehicles. Emma Hall's case illustrates that drivers need to be constantly aware of their responsibility to keep cyclists safe on the roads.
Emma recently settled a road accident claim on behalf of her client Joe*, who was hit by a car as he cycled to the gym one evening after work.
Joe did not drive so cycling was both his favourite form of exercise and his primary mode of transport around London. As Joe cycled down a hill, a car which had seemingly been parked, suddenly pulled out in front of him as if to make a U-turn. Due to Joe's proximity to the car, he was unable to brake in time to avoid a collision. He was knocked off his bike and landed some distance away in the middle of the road.
Joe was taken to hospital by the driver who hit him. A CT scan confirmed a L2 wedge compression fracture of his spine and other injuries, and Joe was kept in the Intensive Care Unit for two days before he was discharged and told to wear a Thoraso Lumbar Sacral 4 Orthosis for at least eight weeks to allow the fracture to heal.
Joe's early recovery was difficult. He lived in a flat and had no family in the UK to help him. He struggled to look after himself due to the intense pain and the need to wear the back brace. He therefore had to move in with a friend who could help him while he recovered. Early communication was made with the insurers so that an Immediate Needs Assessment could be carried out to get Joe the rehabilitation and support he required.
Liability was disputed on the basis that Joe was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bike while cycling at night.The defendant driver further stated that it was raining and the road was lit by only one bank of streetlights. The inference was that he looked before starting his manoeuvre and did not see Joe cycling towards him. Fault for the accident was laid firmly at Joe's door, despite him being the more vulnerable road user.
Fortunately, despite his serious injuries, Joe had the foresight to retain the hi-vis cycling jacket he was wearing at the time of the collision and was able to prove that his bike had full working dynamo lights installed. The police report confirmed that the weather was clear on the evening of the accident and this was supported by historical weather data. Once the evidence was presented to the insurers, liability was admitted in full.
Once Joe was discharged from follow-up at the hospital, medico legal reports were obtained which demonstrated that, despite the moderate fracture Joe had sustained, he had worked hard on his physiotherapy. Joe was already back at the gym working with a personal trainer and a physiotherapist to build up his strength, and it was expected that he would eventually make a full recovery from his injuries.
The insurers made an early offer and Joe was keen to put the accident behind him and move forward with his life. Upon consideration of the medical evidence and Joe's prognosis, we were able to negotiate settlement in his case.
You can read more about our road traffic collision claims and hear from clients.
* Name changed.
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