A woman who was hit by a cyclist after stepping out into the road has been awarded compensation. While the decision may not appear controversial at first, the circumstances of the case have divided opinions.
The ruling has been called controversial as Gemma Brushett was distracted by her phone when she stepped into the road, and the traffic lights were green for the cyclist, Robert Hazeldean. Both parties were knocked unconscious by the collision in July 2015, but the cyclist will have to pay Ms Brushett damages. Although the incident took place over 4 years ago, the case has only just been settled in the courts.
Mr Hazeldean was approaching a junction at the northern end of London Bridge when Ms Brushett stepped into the road. He sounded an air horn to warn her of his approach, but this caused her to panic and try to get back to a traffic island. Unfortunately, Mr Hazeldean had swerved in the same direction to try and avoid hitting her, which is when they collided.
In her summary of the case, Judge Mauger detailed why she had found that Ms Brushett should receive a payout from Mr Hazeldean: ‘When I stand back and ask “how did the accident happen?” it seems to me that Mr Hazeldean owed a duty to other road users to drive with reasonable care and skill […] Mr Hazeldean did fall below the level to be expected of a reasonably competent cyclist in that he did proceed when the road was not completely clear.’
If a pedestrian is established on the road, even if a vehicle or cyclist has the right of way, the pedestrian has right of way by default. So, in this case, even though the lights were on green for the cyclist, Mr Hazeldean, Ms Brushett had right of way.
The judge also added: ‘Ms. Brushett must clearly have equal responsibility if she is crossing the road without looking – and if she is looking at her phone, even more so. But cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways. The appropriate finding is that the parties were equally responsible, and I make a finding of liability at 50/50.’
Another cyclist who witnessed the incident said that Hazeldean was in the wrong and had behaved in an ‘arrogant and reckless’ manner, while 3 other witnesses said that Ms Brushett had been using her phone and was distracted when she went into the road. The judge, however, found that the parties were equally to blame. Judge Shanti Mauger believed that although Hazeldean was a ‘calm and reasonable road user’, cyclists should be ‘prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways’.
The judge’s ruling means that Ms Brushett will receive compensation, but the exact figure she will receive is unknown and will be fixed at a later date. It is likely that, as the judge has ruled that the parties had equal responsibility in the accident, she will only be awarded half of the value of her original claim.
If you have would like to discuss a similar accident or have been affected by this story, then it is in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Compensation Experts where we can discuss your legal issue and help you to make a claim.