According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), every year over 19,000 cyclists are injured or even killed on the UK’s roads.
I recently acted for Miss H, who was cycling to work one morning in 2010 when a car pulled out of a side road without seeing her and collided with the side of her bicycle. There was barely any damage to the vehicle and the driver was not injured. Miss H however, was not so fortunate. She was taken by ambulance from the scene of the accident to hospital, where she was x-rayed and it was found that she had suffered a fracture to her left femur. She had to undergo surgery to insert a screw in her leg to stabilise the fracture.
Her leg was immobilised in a plaster cast and she required crutches for several weeks. She was unable to return to work for over a month and her mother had to come and stay with her as she could not manage day to day on her own. Shortly before the accident, she had started a course in design but she as she was unable to attend the classes for several weeks, she fell too far behind and could not continue. She was not entitled to a refund for course fees for the term which she had paid in advance. Her bicycle was also badly damaged and had to be replaced.
Miss H instructed me to pursue a claim on her behalf and I sent a letter of claim to the driver’s insurers who, after spending some time investigating the circumstances of the accident, eventually admitted that their driver was wholly responsible for the accident. Miss H had been riding correctly along the road and was there to be seen; the driver had simply not looked properly before pulling out.
I instructed an orthopaedic surgeon to prepare an expert report on Miss H’s injuries. The fracture had healed well and she had undergone a course of physiotherapy which helped to resolve the ongoing discomfort in her leg. The medical expert felt that she was unlikely to develop any further problems in her leg in the future. Miss H had returned to work and was also cycling to and from work without difficulty. She had also started her design course again.
As Miss H’s injuries had resolved and there was a good prognosis for the future, I considered that it was now possible to value her claim. After consultation with Miss H, I started settlement negotiations with the driver’s insurers. The claim eventually settled for over £18,000 which included the cost of the replacement bicycle and the lost course fees.
Unfortunately, unless vehicle driver awareness of cyclists improves, we will continue to see a high level of serious accidents on our roads, as reported by RoSPA. Inevitably, because cyclists have less protection than vehicle drivers, their injuries are often serious whilst the vehicle driver escapes injury, as in my client Miss H’s case.