When the cyclist needs protecting from the pedestrian

(July 2019) A cyclist passing through a green light will have to pay damages of up to £100,000 to a pedestrian who walked out in front of him while reading their phone. 

The incident is a stark warning for cyclists who do not have third party insurance.  The case also highlighted the importance of early advice, as a counterclaim for his injuries could have protected cyclist Robert Hazeldean from a large costs order. 

Hazeldean had come through a green traffic light and tried to catch the attention of pedestrian Gemma Brushett by sounding his bike horn and shouting an alert.  He swerved, but as Brushett became aware of the cyclist, she swerved in the same direction and both were knocked unconscious from the resulting collision. 

While Hazeldean was described by the judge as a “calm and reasonable road user”, and Ms Brushett was ruled equally to blame for the accident, the judgement has forced Hazeldean to seek crowdfunding to pay the legal costs and damages imposed by the court.

It’s a very unfortunate outcome from the cyclist’s perspective.  With third party insurance in place, the amount he would have had to find would have been limited to around £7,000.  Alongside, he prepared his own defence and only later asked for independent legal advice, by which time it was too late to counterclaim for the injuries he experienced himself, a move which would have protected him from a large costs order.  

Situations like this don’t always rely on the obvious, common sense interpretation, which is why it’s important to check your legal position.  As the judge said in the summing up of this case, while the pedestrian was at least equally responsible, cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways.

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