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Cyclist sued by pedestrian?

El BadgerinoEl Badgerino Posts: 30
edited September 2014 in Commuting chat
I'm after any advice I can get on this one, a good friend of mine is being sued after a collision with a pedestrian and any angle that they've not thought of might help them out.

The accident happened a number of years ago, but the basics are that my friend was cycling along, passing a set of traffic lights at green and the pedestrian stepped into the road in front of them. The pedestrian was knocked over and hit their head on the road. Police were called and 2 witness statements and details taken (a cyclist following him and a pedestrian waiting at the lights). All statements at the time supported my friend (IE that the lights were green), and the police were satisfied there was no crime.

Several years later the pedestrian is pursuing a claim, on what basis it's very hard to see. Unfortunately it turns out that the legal cover they have with their home insurance is worthless (it will cover them to pursue a claim, but not defend against one!) and the third part liability also worthless (only covering events that happen inside their house).

So they are now footing a defence out of their pocket and have to think about the (however slim) possibility of losing a case like this.

So any ideas? Have you / anyone you know been sued? The only things I can find are about cyclists sued when they've actually done something wrong!

On another point - JOIN CTC, BRITISH CYCLING or LCC or at the very least check your home insurance legal and liability isn't worthless!

Thanks

Posts

  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    El Badgerino. It is worth contacting CTC and seeing if they can help - they used to allow restrospective coverage (it was valid on payment of a year's fee, then 5 year's fee and I think they have stopped it, but I think that they are also pretty good at trying to help out). http://www.ctc.org.uk/insurance

    For a case like your mates with a low chance of success, maybe they would help out?
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    First off, look at whether the claim is time barred - when did the accident occur, and have proceedings been commenced?

    Has your mate got a solicitor? Look at Alyson France & Co or Russell Jones and Walker. A cyclist being sued is a cyclist being sued, so they may have experience of this.
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  • Thanks, I'll follow up on the ctc idea. I think they've signed up with either the ctc solicitor or lcc's. So definitely a cycle specific one.
  • I think I'd be looking to counter-sue the pedestrian for causing the accident.
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  • I think I'd be looking to counter-sue the pedestrian for causing the accident.
    +1, especially if as you say their insurance covers them to pursue a claim.
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  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    Counterclaim would be premised on there being a loss caused to the cyclist; not clear from the above that the cyclist suffered a loss. If it was caused by the ped, that would give rise to a defence based on a lack of causation rather than a counterclaim
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • Sadly, there have been a number of cases over the years where motorists have been found at least in part liable for the actions of pedestrians, even when they are drunk or randomly run out into the road. The law requires a particularly high standard of vigilance towards peds from motorists. How this would translate to cyclists is unclear. After all they are exercising a standard of vigilance towards others who are seeking to run them over at a moments notice. So, it's possible, that a cyclist might be found to have a lower standard of care because there is "so much going on."

    Do we know, in the present case, when the accident was (personal injury claims should be brought within 3 years), what the allegations of negligence are and what the losses claimed are?
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  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,108
    Could be they are sticking a claim in to protect their position as limitation close to expiry - they may not consider that they have a great prospect of success, but often worth paying an issue fee just to keep your options open. As stated above, whether the light is green or not isn't the be all and end all of liability - how fast was your mate cycling? Should he have been able to avoid the pedestrian? Difficult to comment without all the facts and even then its usually a grey area. Not sure what to suggest re covering the legal fees. Might be worth making the point early on that it is a self-funded defence and that your mate will be looking to recover all defence costs (which he will be entitled to if the claim is not successful) rather than just agreeing to walk away if / when the pedestrian decides not to pursue it.
  • sounds like the ped has seen an ad for ambulance chasing lawyers - as suggested above it may put them off that it is not covered on insurance
  • All, I'm reluctant to put to too many specifics to maintain some privacy for my friend (also don't want to do anything that could make it worse for them, could I prejudice a case or am I watching too many bad TV dramas!)

    censored - The claim is within 3 years. The exact nature of the allegation is yet to be clear (is that normal?). The ped is claiming the accident caused long term (permenant) damage.

    BigMat - Your suggestion to point out 'the stakes' as it were is a good one.

    I assume that the case the ped is trying to make is that the cyclist should have seen them, but surely it's a spurious one. The cyclist was in a standard place on the road, and the ped stepped into the road from the left, at an average walking pace you would cover the width of a cycle (say .5M) in 3/4 of a second. Enough time to register them, but definitely not stop. Or is my logic flawed?
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,108
    Its a question I have asked myself having hit a couple of pedestrians. I make a point of looking ahead, cycling away from the edge of the road, slowing down where necessary. On the 2 occasions I have hit peds, I came off worse as I was probably already going over the bars by the time I hit them. I would question my riding if I ever hit someone full pelt without even attempting to avoid them. Not sure what the legal position is, probably the cyclist would be liable but the victim would be contributorily negligent to a significant degree.
  • bigmat wrote:
    Its a question I have asked myself having hit a couple of pedestrians. I make a point of looking ahead, cycling away from the edge of the road, slowing down where necessary. On the 2 occasions I have hit peds, I came off worse as I was probably already going over the bars by the time I hit them. I would question my riding if I ever hit someone full pelt without even attempting to avoid them. Not sure what the legal position is, probably the cyclist would be liable but the victim would be contributorily negligent to a significant degree.

    Probably/possibly. As I say, it's certainly the case with cars. Basically the duty of care requires you to be vigilant. As you say, it's a damn good idea to be wary of what peds will do when you see them because, frankly, they do stupid things. Particularly on shared use paths when they have headphones or dogs.

    Much of this may seem unfair but there's a lot of precedent for it or, if you like, similar situations.

    I concur with one of the above views. This is almost certainly prompted by an ambulance chasing claims company who are having a go.

    It is normal not to specify the allegation? No, the letter before claim needs to set out the precise nature of the allegation or it's not a proper letter of claim.

    http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/proced ... on_conduct

    The relevant "rules" are above.
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  • verminvermin Posts: 1,739
    bigmat wrote:
    Might be worth making the point early on that it is a self-funded defence and that your mate will be looking to recover all defence costs (which he will be entitled to if the claim is not successful) rather than just agreeing to walk away if / when the pedestrian decides not to pursue it.

    Costs are not generally recoverable in the small claims court, I'm afraid. Although that's no reason not to make an empty threat to test the water.
  • No, the letter before claim needs to set out the precise nature of the allegation or it's not a proper letter of claim.

    How precise does it have to be? For instance can it say "we don't believe you were being vigilant" or would it have to say "we don't believe you were being vigilant because..."

    On such a broad thing like 'being vigilant' it would hard to argue against this without a precise point to focus on.

    It may say more on the documents sent to my friend, but I'm only going on what they've said.
  • vermin wrote:
    Costs are not generally recoverable in the small claims court, I'm afraid. Although that's no reason not to make an empty threat to test the water.

    From either side? Or just from the defence?
  • verminvermin Posts: 1,739
    vermin wrote:
    Costs are not generally recoverable in the small claims court, I'm afraid. Although that's no reason not to make an empty threat to test the water.

    From either side? Or just from the defence?

    Have a look at CPR Rule 27.14
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,108
    Why would you assume a personal injury claim relating to long term head injuries would be a "small claim"?
  • verminvermin Posts: 1,739
    bigmat wrote:
    Why would you assume a personal injury claim relating to long term head injuries would be a "small claim"?

    Fair point. I suppose I assumed that a big PI claim for significant injury/damage would be brought sooner. The longer it is left, the harder it would be to evidence, usually.
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