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By Spencers Solicitors

  Spencers Solicitors    
  August 30, 2019

Cycling Accident v Pedestrian Accident – The Curious Case of Split Liability

If we were to ask whether you had heard of the court case of Brushett v Hazeldean, your answer would probably be ‘no’. If, however, we were to ask if you knew anything about the case where an uninsured cyclist had been ordered to pay a large sum of compensation and legal costs after he collided with a pedestrian who had been looking at her phone as she crossed the road, we would guess that many of you would respond along the lines of, ‘Oh that one, yes’. You may well have already formed a view on it too. That’s because the Press have been all over the case, with headlines such as this one from The Independent;

Cyclist

‘Why was a law-abiding cyclist who was passing through a green light ordered to pay compensation to a pedestrian who was staring at here phone?’

or this one from the Evening Standard;

‘Cyclist who hit yoga teacher who stepped into the road while starting at her phone faces bankruptcy after being ordered to pay £100,000’

Summary of the pedestrian injury claim brought by Miss Brushett against Mr Hazeldean

Much has already been written about the case itself, so here we just provide a brief summary of it:

  • The accident happened at a busy junction in London in 2015, as Miss Brushett, the Claimant (C) in the case, was crossing King William Street. The cyclist, Mr. Hazeldean, the Defendant (D) in the case, was cycling through a road junction with traffic lights showing green against him. He was intending to cycle up King William Street.
  • When D was about 25 metres from the junction where the accident happened, he noticed that although most pedestrians were waiting to cross, C had wandered into the road. She was looking at her phone. This was confirmed by the judge in the case.
  • D sounded his cycle horn and shouted. C stopped and started to step back into the gap that D was now aiming for.
  • Despite C saying that he braked, a collision took place between C and D.
  • C sustained head injuries. D was slightly injured too.
  • C instructed solicitors and made a personal injury claim against D
  • D decided initially to defend the claim himself, although at a later stage he instructed solicitors.
  • After several years, the case finally went to court. The judge heard evidence from several witnesses. After doing so, the judge decided to apportion liability 50/50 between the parties. In other words, each were held to be 50% to blame for the accident.
  • C was 50% liable, because she was distracted by looking at her phone when she wandered out into the road. She then tried to turn back and in doing so walked straight into the path that the cyclist was heading for to try and avoid a collision.
  • The judge decided that D was 50% to blame too, despite the fact that he was passing through a green light, because in her judgment, she found that: ‘The Defendant was someone who could see pedestrians on the crossing still, albeit he thought they were planning to clear. A cyclist must be prepared for pedestrians to behave in unexpected ways.’
  • At a further trial, a week later, to decide the amount of compensation, C was awarded £4161.79, which was half of the total amount that she would have received but for being found 50% liable for the accident.
  • D was also held liable to pay C’s costs, including the costs of two court hearings. The costs were to be later assessed by the court, with estimates as to the amount to be paid by D, ranging from around £20,000 to as much as £100,000. A Go Fund Me page set up to assist D in meeting his liability for legal fees achieved a total of £59,438, which it was estimated would be enough to cover his liability, with the balance being donated to charity.

Several interesting and cautionary points have been raised by this case.

Insurance for Cyclists

Mr Hazeldean, carried no form of cycling insurance. Had done so, his insurance company would have taken over the case and either settled it by negotiation or allowed the matter to go to court. Either way, they would have paid any costs and compensation that Mr Hazeldean was held liable to pay. He would have not had to pay a penny. In addition, the insurers would have appointed solicitors to act on his behalf at an early stage and their costs would have been covered under the insurance policy too.

There is no legal requirement for cyclists to have third party insurance, which many people consider surprising. If a cyclist causes an accident and damage, loss or personal injury are caused to another party, such as a pedestrian, some home insurance policies, will cover the cyclist, in the event of a claim being made against the cyclist and will pay out compensation to the injured party. However, many home policies will not cover this type of claim.

Our advice to all cyclists, is to check whether any home policy that they have, will cover them if they become involved in a cycling accident. If that is not the case, then they are advised to take out separate cyclist’s insurance cover. By becoming a member of Cycling UK, for instance, you will pay a membership fee of £3.88 per month and that includes £10 million worth of third party insurance cover for both on and off-road cycling accidents.

Seek advice from a cycling accident solicitor as soon as possible if you have been involved in an accident

Robert Hazeldean was quick to admit that he should have instructed solicitors at an earlier stage than he did, to help him with the claim brought against him by Miss Brushett. Had he done so, then they would have undoubtedly advised him to make a counterclaim against her, for the injuries that he sustained. Above all else, this would have protected him from facing a large costs order that he himself would have to pay. Instead his insurance company would have footed the bill.

Spencers Solicitors are experts in bicycle accident claims. If you have been involved in a cycling accident, contact our highly experienced bicycle accident claims team at Spencers, on 08000 93 00 94 for a totally obligation free chat. We’ll be able to advise you on your prospects of making a successful cycling injury compensation claim and answer any questions that you may have. This initial telephone consultation will be entirely free. If you decide that you would like us to take on your claim, in most cases, we'll be able to do this for you by means of a No Win, No Fee personal injury claim. Call Spencers now or enquire online if you prefer to contact us via our website contact form, in the first instance.


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