Dogs and cyclists just don't mix.

Sandison v Coope (2016)

Bridge of GaurAt approximately 12:30pm on the 11th July 2010, Elaine Sandison (the pursuer) was riding her road bike on an unnamed country road around half a mile from the Bridge of Gaur at the western end of Loch Rannoch when she collided with a dog. She was thrown from her bicycle and sustained significant injuries. At the time, she was in the company of Colin Howard.

Elaine and Colin had been part of a larger group ride with the “Johnstone Wheelers” cycling club. At approximately 12 noon, Elaine and Colin separated from the main group whilst traveling eastward on the B846. They decided to stop to allow Elaine to change her clothes in the car her husband, Greg Sandison, was driving behind them providing logistical support.

Shortly after setting off again, Elaine and Colin turned right (southbound) off the B846 and onto the unclassified road that crosses the River Gaur by a bridge and runs along the south side of Loch Rannoch. It is a single track road with passing places. Colin set the pace followed closely by Elaine. Greg Sandison was also following in his car some distance behind.

Sandison v Coope Collision Locus

As Elaine and Colin proceeded along the road, they came to what was for them, a blind corner. As Colin rounded the bend he was confronted with a large, chocolate brown Labrador making its way across the road. The dog was owned by Thomas Coope (the defender). Thomas had parked in a recess next to the road and was making preparations for a fishing expedition just off the road in question with a few friends.

Colin was able to avoid the Labrador and shouted, “dogs!” but Elaine was not so lucky.

She collided with the dog, striking it with her front wheel. As a consequence of striking the dog, she was thrown from her bicycle and tumbled. She ended up on the road, still attached to her bike by her shoe cleats. Elaine sustained a broken jaw, five broken teeth, and her shoulder was broken in five places.

When the case was heard at the Sheriff Court in Perth, Sheriff WM Wood found that the primary cause of the collision between Elaine and the dog was the fault of Thomas in failing to take relevant control of his dog on a public road and thereby allowing it to run into the path of Elaine as she approached on her bicycle.

However, he also found that Elaine had failed to moderate her speed or be aware of the potential presence of hazards around a blind bend or to have given warning of her impending approach. He found her to have contributed to the loss, injury and damage she sustained as the direct result of the collision. Elaine at the time was travelling between 18 and 20mph.

Liability was apportioned as 70% against Thomas and 30% against Elaine, meaning Thomas was liable to pay Elaine 70% of the valuation of the loss, injury and damage that she sustained as a result of the accident.

You can read the full decision here.

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