A cyclist has secured £17,000 in damages after a van pulled across his path, despite the driver’s attempts to discredit his version of events.
Walter Hamilton of Edinburgh sustained a serious knee injury and cuts to his face when a white van, sitting stationary in the middle of the road waiting to turn right, suddenly pulled across his path causing a collision.
But, three months later he discovered that the driver had given his insurance company a different account of what had happened, even submitting staged photos. Liability was denied forcing Walter to raise a Court action against Aviva Insurance.
Luckily for Walter, he took his own photos at the scene, which supported his case and exposed the driver as possibly chancing his luck to save his no claims bonus.
Walter Hamilton’s Solicitor, Jodi Gordon of Cycle Law Scotland, confirmed that Walter’s case is typical of the way cyclists’ claims are handled and supports the call for a change in civil law.
“I couldn’t believe it. The driver was very apologetic at the time and instantly admitted that the collision was his fault. But I found myself with the weight of a major insurance company bearing down on me and telling me that, in fact, it was all my fault. It seems that as a cyclist, even though we are the ones injured, we are more likely than not to find ourselves fighting against big corporate machines for what’s right and fair.”
Jodi Gordon commented:
“Walter’s case highlights the experience of many cyclists and shows the weakness of our current fault-based system. Instead of this being a straightforward case on liability with recompense going to the injured party, we have a situation made worse with drawn-out litigation.
“Introducing a system of presumed liability in Scots civil law would simply mean that a driver’s insurance company would have to prove fault on the part of the cyclist to avoid paying compensation. Presumed liability would enable vulnerable road users to be compensated quickly and fairly and without resort to litigation.”
“Walter’s case also shows the importance of taking photos. If possible, photos should be taken immediately following a collision, as these are the best evidence in supporting a particular version of events. Insurance companies often try and under-settle cases by putting forward low offers as they did initially in Walter’s case, but with specialist Solicitors on side, a fair level of compensation was fought for and won.”