The sorry tale of cyclist Robert Hazeldean has caused a media storm this month after he found himself facing a Court Order to pay compensation and costs to a pedestrian he hit after she walked into the road in front of him during rush hour on London Bridge. The Court found the cyclist and the pedestrian equally to blame for the collision.
The judge said Mr Hazeldean was a calm and reasonable road user but : “cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways.”
This judgment does not set a precedent for the future as each case will be very much dependent upon its own facts. Road layout, traffic conditions, weather, speed etc. will all play a part. Our article on legal “don’ts” for cyclists is also worth a read.
The case is also a bitter lesson on what happens when defendants are slow to seek legal advice. Mr Hazeldean made a statement after the case to say he “can only regret not having engaged [his lawyers] sooner, delayed as I was by my lack of legal knowledge and concern about the costs. “
Mr Hazeldean was injured in the collision, but failed to make a counter-claim and had no award of damages (unlike the pedestrian who recovered 50% of her claim). He acted on his own for much of the case because he was reluctant to spend his own money on a lawyer. He did eventually instruct solicitors, but only after the case was well underway.
Ashfords partner Flora Wood comments:
“Cyclists do not have to take out third party insurance, but failing to do so risks paying crippling litigation costs. Ironically, those costs would have been far lower for the cyclist if he had insurance as more favourable costs rules would then apply. Under current rules a cyclist who is 100% successful in defending an injury claim cannot recover their legal costs from the claimant.
“Following the Court judgment Mr Hazeldean said “I would urge other cyclists to take out insurance through British Cycling to help protect them from experiencing what I’ve gone through.” If more cyclists took this step it would not only protect them but also assist those innocent pedestrians and motorists involved in accidents caused by uninsured cyclists. “