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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

Anthony Gold Solicitors , 05 NOV 2015

Mrs Fenella Sinclair (a protected person by her litigation friend and daughter Ms Rebecca Rosalina Da Silva Lima) v Mrs Rachel Louise Joyner [2015] EWHC 1800 (QB)

Mrs Fenella Sinclair (a protected person by her litigation friend and daughter Ms Rebecca Rosalina Da Silva Lima) v Mrs Rachel Louise Joyner [2015] EWHC 1800 (QB)
RTA – Cyclist – Failure to Wear Helmet – Contributory Negligence

High Court, Queen’s Bench Division: Cox J

23 June 2015

Summary
The claimant, then aged 58, was riding her bicycle when a collision occurred between herself and the defendant’s Volvo causing the claimant to fall sideways and sustain severe head injuries. The court held that the defendant had failed to adequately assess the risk posed by the claimant, but found the claimant 25% contributorily negligent.

Detail
The case concerned a road traffic collision on a narrow country lane. The width of the lane was 5m and the defendant’s vehicle 2.1m. At the time of the accident the claimant was cycling towards the centre of the road approaching a bend; the defendant was travelling in the opposite direction. Upon seeing the claimant, the defendant slowed her vehicle but upon passing the claimant, there was contact between the tyres causing the claimant to fall and sustain injury.

It was the defendant’s initial contention that no contact had been made and the claimant lost control and fell. The judge was highly critical of the defendant’s expert who did not address the scuff marks appearing on both the bicycle and Volvo and who offered no explanation for his opinions. Additionally, the judge was critical of the defendant expert not attending the first day to hear evidence of fact, which was tested in cross-examination.

The judge concluded that the defendant failed to properly assess the risk of the claimant. The claimant was cycling towards the centre of the road, standing up on her pedals and according to the defendant’s husband’s testimony appeared in pain. The defendant should have appreciated the width of the road and vehicle and the fact the claimant was towards the centre of the road. Accordingly, the reasonably prudent driver would have applied the brakes and immediately stopped in order to allow the claimant to ride past. The court conducted an analysis of stopping distances and concluded there was ample time for her to stop.

An allegation of contributory negligence was made for failure to wear a helmet and for riding in the centre of the road. The court accepted the claimant’s road position contributed to the accident but did not accept that failure to wear a helmet made her injuries worse.

Comment
This is a helpful case on contributory negligence in relation to vulnerable road users, which emphasises that the burden on drivers is a high one.

Summarised by Sandra de Souza and Amy Wedgwood, Anthony Gold Solicitors
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The judge concluded that the defendant failed to properly assess the risk of the claimant. The claimant was cycling towards the centre of the road, standing up on her pedals and according to the defendant’s husband’s testimony appeared in pain. The defendant should have appreciated the width of the road and vehicle and the fact the claimant was towards the centre of the road. Accordingly, the reasonably prudent driver would have applied the brakes and immediately stopped in order to allow the claimant to ride past. The court conducted an analysis of stopping distances and concluded there was ample time for her to stop.

An allegation of contributory negligence was made for failure to wear a helmet and for riding in the centre of the road. The court accepted the claimant’s road position contributed to the accident but did not accept that failure to wear a helmet made her injuries worse.

Comment
This is a helpful case on contributory negligence in relation to vulnerable road users, which emphasises that the burden on drivers is a high one.

Summarised by Sandra de Souza and Amy Wedgwood, Anthony Gold Solicitors
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