The Cyclist Claimant

A rise in the number of cyclists recent years has in turn brought about a rise in the number of claims being brought by cyclists whether they are partly at fault or injured through no fault of their own.

The first five months of the year has seen various case’s going to the court of appeal one such case is Elson v Stilgoe [2017] EWCA Civ 193. In the case, the Claimant Mr Elson was cycling with a friend on a single carriageway road with one lane in each direction separated by a single white line. There was a collision between the Claimant who was overtaking a stationary line of traffic in an area of the road which was flooded and the Defendant’s car travelling in the opposite direction, the collision occurring in the Defendant’s lane.


The Claimant’s case was that the defendant had failed to keep a proper look out and failed to see the Claimant manoeuvring around the puddle, failed to stop and let the Claimant return to his side of the road or steer to his left to avoid the collision.


The trial judge dismissed the claim and held that the defendant was driving correctly, and the Claimant had encroached on the defendant’s side of the road and into the path of his vehicle at a late stage.


The court of appeal agreed with the trial judge and the appeal was dismissed.


Another similar case from 2015 where the Claimant cyclist encroached into to the defendant’s lane is Sinclair v Joyner [2015] EWHC 1800, in this case the claimant was cycling along a single carriageway rural lane, the Defendant’s Volvo coming in the opposite direction.


The Claimant was very close to the centre of the road on her own side as the car approached but lost control of her bike and deviated into the Defendant’s side of the road as the car went past. There was contact with the bike on the Defendant’s side of the road and the Claimant fell sustaining a serious head injury.


But unlike in Elson v Stilgoe where the Claimant had suddenly manoeuvred into the defendant’s path to avoid a puddle and the case was dismissed, the trial judge found the defendant to be at fault referring to parts of the Highway Code highlighting vulnerability of cyclists and the need for other road users to use extra care. “Motorists have to anticipate hazards in the road, particularly from vulnerable road users, and be ready to react to them”.


The defendant had seen the claimant’s close proximity to the centre of the road as soon as he saw her. The defendant had seen that the Claimant was standing on the pedals looking uncomfortable fighting to keep control of her bike. The defendant may have slowed down when she saw the claimant some 60 meters away but failed to assess the risk/hazard.

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