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RTA: What would you do?

luculluslucullus Posts: 20
edited October 2008 in Commuting chat
Hi all,

I'm a relative newbie to the forum, but had a good look through other tales of woe and joy from commuting ...

It was in May - 3 days before my birthday - and I'm rushing to work after a Governor's meeting that ran over. I'm on the South Circular, which has - at this point - quite broad, clearly marked cycle lanes.

So, doing almost 20mph, I think, I'm approaching a road on my left. It's my right of way, and I carry on regardless, when suddenly someone has turned right across the front of me. I cannon into the rear quarter and go flying, with a nice piece of Golf breaklight embedded in my knee.

Apparently the traffic on my side had stopped to let her turn, although I fail to see why that precluded her from looking for me. Anyway, off to hospital for 11 stitches in my knee, and a written off bike following in the panda.

The insurers have an 'independent witness' who claims it was my fault, and since there is only one witness statement, the police decided to 'no further action' the whole thing.

So my question is this: would you appoint solicitors and pursue it, or just write it off as a major league mess and be pleased about a new bike? For myself, I'm very pissed indeed, but not sure of the economic value of pursuing it right now ...

Posts

  • LittigatorLittigator Posts: 1,262
    So just to check are the drivers insurance company pursuing you for anything at all e.g. damage to the car etc?

    Or are they offering the new bike or is that something you'll have to pay out for?
    Roadie FCN: 3

    Fixed FCN: 6
  • Blimey, sorry to hear about your incident, people turning without looking is a real fear of mine, especially when there's a gap in the traffic for them, as I always worry that a) they won't look for me and b) someone might argue that I should have seen teh gap in traffic and stopped.

    What a complete farce. I really don't know what to suggest, but really sorry to hear about that.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Pursue it! The lateness in the day of your claim may undermine you somewhat, but any insurance company worth it's salt is going to play hard ball and try and refute your claim, especially if you appear to not be taking it seriously (not having representation). They know that most people will back down. I cannot see how it can be deemed to be your fault given the right turn in front of you, unless the witness and the driver somehow claim a completely different set of events. Your injury and bike loss surely adds up to at least a 4 figure sum for compensation.
  • No, they're offering nothing. Based on the witness statement, they're suggesting I might want to accept liability, actually!

    Paid out for the new bike - got a nice Gary Fisher with discs and road-type tyres. Did have a full road bike, but just didn't feel safe buying the same thing ... :-(

    Interestingly, the two statements I've seen do a good job of replicating my road plan - the witness is claiming I could have avoided the accident by slowing down, and that I misjudged the speed she was turning into the road at! I remember having the time to shout "F...!" at the top of my voice, and then slammed into her.

    Actually just noticed a huge lie in the other statement too ... Bah.

    And now I have to go back to hospital - to see the Missus and the little Missus (bun released from oven on Wednesday ...)
  • I'm not a lawyer, but I'm not sure how it can't be her fault. To my mind, if the equivalent accident ocurred between two cars, one of which was turning right across 2 lanes, then the outcome would be different. That's the legal position because you were in a bike lane, regardless of the statements of unqualified witnesses or overwhealmed policemen.

    Your level of fault would relate to undertaking I would have thought. We all know that its not illegal "per se", but it has to be safe. If it wasn't safe, then you contributed to the accident. The counter arguments are going to be that you were going "too fast" under the circumstances. You might need to be honest with yourself about how long you might have been cycling up the inside of stationary or slow moving traffic coming up to the junction. If it was stop start and had only then stopped (or if someone had flashed the motorist across or stopped for a reason other than there being no space for them to proceeed without blocking the junction) I again can't see how you were significantly at fault.

    Question is, how much time do you have on your hands? You shouldn't be short of firms offering to take up the case, and I suppose that its best to loose 20% of something than have 100% of nothing, with the proviso that if it does end up in court (i.e. if they are not successful in making the insurance company determine that their bottom line is best served by making you an offer) then you run the risk of bearing the insurance comapny's legal costs. But I imagine that it will roll on for a while and cause you ongoing angst.

    I think you are about to be innundated with posts from people telling you how they would have avoided the incident. Ignore these posts.
  • Sorry to hear about your accident.

    For what its worth I agree with AT. I was in a similar car on car accident a number of years ago and the driver that pulled out was accepting a flash from stationary traffic waiting to turn right. We were moving down the inside of traffic waiting to turn right and we hit him as he came in front of us. That was deemed to be fully his fault. i know this is slightly different, but I think that the principle is the same.

    Hope this is useful.
    FCN 8

    2009 Boardman Hybrid Pro
  • Think of it in these terms:

    Someone wishes to to turn right across two lanes of traffic. the outside lane stops so the driver turns right and is hit by a car in the other lane which has not stopped.

    This is exactly what has happened here.

    You are in a separate lane of traffic - one specifically for bikes. anyone turning right should see the cycle lane and act accordingly.

    If there had been no cycle lane, then you were undertaking and the onus is on you, but if there was a clearly marked cycle lane, then it falls on the other driver.
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • gtvlussogtvlusso Posts: 5,112
    Sorry to hear about this - hope you get well soon.

    Simple solution really - never let anyone out!!! Highway code and driving instructors will tell you not to do it in a car - never flash anyone out and never accept anyone flashing you out.

    I have been knocked off motobikes too many times by idiots doing this - it is their fault as they have not fully checked that the way is clear around them.
  • doog442doog442 Posts: 370
    independent witnesses are marvelous arent they!!!

    I would say its highly unlikley the 'independent witness' witnessed the 'whole event,' more like they witnessed you hitting the car or the split second after the collision and quickly made their mind up you were in the wrong.

    You are not just talking about the damage to your bike also the damage to you...ie 11 stitches etc

    Clearly the driver of the vehicle wasnt looking out for you and should have been as i presume she was crossing the cycle lane...however she could argue that to cross the lane and get a view for a cyclist up the inside of a queue of traffic is an impossible situation.

    Find a no win no fee place who do a free consultation and give it a go.
  • sc999cssc999cs Posts: 596
    Try contacting these people. I don't know how good they are but I found their site via the CTC website and they have the CTC logo on their page.
    Steve C
  • Definitely fight it, though the delay might be tricky. Other drivers stopping or flashing has no bearing on her decision to pull out - it's her responsibility to check that it's safe, and as you were on a bike lane that means checking that lane too.

    The undertaking bit - it's actually legal to undertake in the UK if traffic is moving in lanes (i.e. it's pretty busy) and your lane is going faster than the one on your right. It sounds like that's what you were doing.

    Good luck!

    '09 Enigma Eclipse with SRAM.
    '10 Tifosi CK7 Audax Classic with assorted bits for the wet weather
    '08 Boardman Hybrid Comp for the very wet weather.
  • Last time I had an internet discussion which involved an accident and the Insurers getting snotty I looked in the highway code. The relevant section stopped them dead.

    I think this one does as well:

    170-183: Road junctions170
    Take extra care at junctions. You should

    watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters and pedestrians as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind
    watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way
    watch out for long vehicles which may be turning at a junction ahead; they may have to use the whole width of the road to make the turn (see Rule 221)

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTr ... /DG_070332

    and also: (same page)

    Turning right
    179
    Well before you turn right you should

    use your mirrors to make sure you know the position and movement of traffic behind you
    give a right-turn signal
    take up a position just left of the middle of the road or in the space marked for traffic turning right
    leave room for other vehicles to pass on the left, if possible
    180
    Wait until there is a safe gap between you and any oncoming vehicle. Watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and other road users. Check your mirrors and blind spot again to make sure you are not being overtaken, then make the turn. Do not cut the corner. Take great care when turning into a main road; you will need to watch for traffic in both directions and wait for a safe gap.

    Remember: Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre

    Seems cut and dry to me
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • mr_hippomr_hippo Posts: 1,051
    lucullus wrote:
    Hi all,
    So, doing almost 20mph, I think, I'm approaching a road on my left. It's my right of way, and I carry on regardless ...
    I think that sums it uo - no further comment needed!
  • mr_hippomr_hippo Posts: 1,051
    lucullus wrote:
    Hi all,
    So, doing almost 20mph, I think, I'm approaching a road on my left. It's my right of way, and I carry on regardless ...
    I think that sums it up - no further comment needed!
  • gabriel959gabriel959 Posts: 4,227
    lucullus wrote:

    And now I have to go back to hospital - to see the Missus and the little Missus (bun released from oven on Wednesday ...)

    Congratulations mate :)

    That will make all this censored a little bit better.
    x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x
    Commuting / Winter rides - Jamis Renegade Expert
    Pootling / Offroad - All-City Macho Man Disc
    Fast rides Cannondale SuperSix Ultegra
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,111
    Sounds pretty straightforward - you were going in a straight line, car turned across you, bang. Driver's fault, hadn't checked the bike lane for oncoming traffic. Contrib neg? Guess they could argue that on basis that you were going too fast for the conditions etc, but I'd dispute that - it was your right of way. Russell Jones & Walker do a lot of bike litigation I think. Also, May to September is no big deal in terms of delay - you get 3 years to pursue a claim. Provided the police accident report is clear on what happened, this should be an open and shut case.
  • At the risk of repetition my understanding is that the onus is upon the car turning to ensure that it is safe to do so - it wasn't.
  • Their insurers (who have a vested interest in you not pursuing) claim they have a 'independent witness' who is giving an incorrect version of events? Sounds like a load of cobblers to me. I'd suggest that either:

    1. They're making it up to make you go away
    2. If they do have a witness, they might be unwilling to testify
    3. If the witness does testify, what could they say that would undermine your case? Not much unless they're going to purjure themselves by flat out lying

    As everyone says, it sounds like a strong case. I'd not be put off by their insurers making an unsubstantiated claim like that. Why would an 'independent witness' want to lie on the behalf of someone they don't know?

    Best of luck anyway
  • Its a long shot, but if you have a means of communicating with the insurance company on the specifics of the case, it may be worth pointing out in writing that their decision is not consistent with the facts and that you will seek to recover your damages. They do rely on the % of people who give up right away - that's their profit margin.

    You have to bear in mind that the poor sod dealing with the claim in the first instance is probably being paid about £12k a year to be bullied by his line manager not to pay anything to anyone and wrestle with a censored computer system having had about an hour's training.

    I once managed to change a company's mind by pointing out that since the damage to my vehicle was at the side and that my tyre marks were in the ditch indicating my efforts to avoid the other party lurching out of a side road, physcial evidence was not consistent with the other party's story that I'd veered towards them. Didn't take long to get my no claims back, presumably because it was self evident.

    In your case, the physical evidence is the position of the accident and the existence of a cycle lane. The facts appear to be that she cut across 2 lanes, one of which was occupied.
  • nwallacenwallace Posts: 1,465
    Had similar occur to me when out driving, vehicle pulled out of a car park to turn right, I was doing 30 about 20m, had covered the brake when I saw it sitting there and slamed the anchors on when I realised he was moving out.

    Even if you have right of way you can't just pile on, on the basis that the vehicle wil lgive way. As the operator of a vehicle your meant to take into consideration how stupid another road user is being. Yes it is the driver of the cars fault, but when you saw the car in the side road you should have taken appropriate action, in this case it would p[robably be, stop pedaling, cover brakes and make sure you are comfortable you can stop or reduce speed in time to avoid a collision should the vehicle without right of way do soemthing stupid. If you give the description you gave here (Basically you did censored all to avoid the collision) then that is going to be questioned if the insurance companies lawyers are any good, and guaranteed they are censored hot.

    Sorry.
    Do Nellyphants count?

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  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    nwallace wrote:
    Had similar occur to me when out driving, vehicle pulled out of a car park to turn right, I was doing 30 about 20m, had covered the brake when I saw it sitting there and slamed the anchors on when I realised he was moving out.

    Even if you have right of way you can't just pile on, on the basis that the vehicle wil lgive way. As the operator of a vehicle your meant to take into consideration how stupid another road user is being. Yes it is the driver of the cars fault, but when you saw the car in the side road you should have taken appropriate action, in this case it would p[robably be, stop pedaling, cover brakes and make sure you are comfortable you can stop or reduce speed in time to avoid a collision should the vehicle without right of way do soemthing stupid. If you give the description you gave here (Basically you did fark all to avoid the collision) then that is going to be questioned if the insurance companies lawyers are any good, and guaranteed they are shoot hot.

    Sorry.
    To be fair I get the impression that the car turned unexpectedly, it is arguable, I suppose, that brake-covering should have occurred, but I can also see that one could easily be caught out.
  • in my opinion if it is a clear cycle lane then the car should have to wait for all traffic to let them pull out before going, if it was a bus lane there just because the car let them go they would still wait for the bus to go before they went, you had right of way and the car cut you up therefore it is there fault, was it in a city if it was with the amount off cctv around these days wouldn't surprise me if a nearby camera may have caught the incident on film
  • Thanks for all the advice and support. When I got to hospital and told the missus that the insurers were trying to get me for liability, she was also suitably shocked!

    I think I'll get a couple of pictures of the junction, and find some lawyers to go over it all.

    I should perhaps add that I had time to snatch at the brakes, but you can imagine how effective that was on a road bike at 15-20mph! I suppose I was just shocked that it should happen there - so many people cycle on that area of the South Circular that I (wrongly) assumed motorists would be looking out a bit more ...
  • felgenfelgen Posts: 829
    I was interested reading this thread so when I was chatting to my brother who just happens to be a lawyer I asked him about this.

    He made the following points:
    If you made no effort to slow down or mitigate a potential accident then some burden of negligence rests with you i.e. a varying proportion of it is your fault.

    If there is a cycle lane then this is a traffic lane and should be considered as such, i.e. checked before moving off across it.

    I would get pictures draw detailed diagrams, and write a statement asap if you havent already as the better written more detailed statement will carry much more weight than something which has been written a long time down the line.

    Give it a go in terms of making a claim. If they do have a witness then you would be entitled to a copy of the statement they make. In fact if it has been a while and the witness didnt make a written statement at the time they will also have a hazy recall of the events.

    HTH
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  • prj45prj45 Posts: 2,208
    Yup, primarily censored cycling meets censored car driving, sorry!

    You should always be ready for a car to turn across your path when cycling up inside a stationary line of traffic.
  • beegeebeegee Posts: 160
    One of the things that I think is good about this forum that even though it's for cyclists people seem to keep a sense of balance about the car vs cycle thing.

    But imho I think that you were in the right.

    For one thing you are in a cycle lane which is designed to help cyclists carry on cycling safely when the traffic is queuing (eg during rush hour). Unless the driver is stupid they can see the markings on the road which indicate cycle path which means give way.

    I guess that your spidey senses would've noticed the car waiting and thought 'will it, won't it ?'. And they let you down this time. But here's the thing. Iin my opinion, you were riding at a reasonable speed, obeying the highway code. Why should you be suffer and be penalised because someone else didn't ? Defensive riding is about saviing us, not about reducing others' need for care and attention.
  • Hi all, thanks for the support on this.

    I've spoken to the guys who work with CTC and they're going to take it on for me, which is really helpful.

    And this week was my first Governor's meeting at the same time (8am) as the one before the accident, so I decided to take a different route to work, just in case!

    Best wishes,

    Tim.
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