Insurer takes advantage of cyclist's memory loss

Locus Images for Douglas Guy Collision

On 26th May 2015 at around 6.30pm, Douglas was involved in a cycling collision whilst making his way home from work in Westhill on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Douglas is a keen and experienced cyclist and rides over 3000 miles per annum both commuting and for leisure. His commute is about a 20 mile round trip. At the time of the incident, Douglas was wearing a bright orange fleece and white helmet. He had a flashing white strobe light on the front of his bike which he uses at all times. 

Douglas didn’t remember anything about the accident circumstances as he suffered a head injury but from Police witness accounts it was clear that a car failed to give way at a junction and turned across his path. Douglas sustained a fracture to his C1 vertebrae, four fractured ribs, a very serious fractured jaw and numerous lacerations and bruising, some of which required stitches. He also lost three teeth as a result of the impact with the car.

Douglas found out about Cycle Law Scotland through an internet search and immediately contacted us to help him get back on his feet. 

Cycle Law Scotland set to work and Brenda visited Douglas at home while he was in the early stages of recovery. It was at that time it became apparent that Douglas would need help from numerous medical experts including Orthopaedic Surgeons, Maxillo-facial surgeons and specialist Ophthalmologists. The facial injuries were so severe that Douglas could barely eat and had to have a special diet. His eyesight was affected due to nerve damage. 

At CLS, we work with a network of independent medical experts and through our skill and knowledge we were able to identify those experts best suited to comment on Douglas’s numerous injuries.

A claim was intimated directly to the driver’s insurers but astonishingly the third party insurers refused to consider the case until such time as the outcome of a criminal trial was known. The Police had charged their policyholder with careless driving. She pled not guilty and Douglas was cited by the Crown as a witness. On the very day of the trial, the driver changed her plea. She was fined £270 and received 4 penalty points.

Despite the car driver pleading guilty to a charge of careless driving, the third party insurers continuously delayed and refused to consider Douglas’s case. Cycle Law Scotland raised a civil action against the third party insurer as, after all, Douglas’ injuries were caused as a result of their policyholder’s negligent act. Defences were lodged and liability was not immediately admitted forcing Douglas into a protracted court procedure. However, after continuous pressure from CLS, liability was admitted and an out of court settlement negotiated .

It was a long drawn out battle for Douglas but on settlement he had this to say:

“As a cyclist involved in a serious accident I definitely landed on my feet with Cycle Law Scotland. Highly professional, resolute and determined, they have done their absolute best for me every step of the way. I feel very fortunate and am completely satisfied with the outcome. A really great team.”

Brenda Mitchell, Senior Partner at Cycle Law Scotland, who handled Douglas’s case commented:

“This is why we need Presumed liability. As Douglas’s head injury meant he could not recall the accident, it is my opinion that the insurers took advantage of this and forced Douglas into a court action, thus delaying his compensation. If presumed liability was in place, it would be up to the insurer to prove Douglas was at fault. They would have known their policyholder was negligent within weeks and would have compensated Douglas fairly and swiftly. The current fault based system works against those seriously injured and allows insurers to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. Our fault based system encourages litigation and results in a David and Goliath battle. Thankfully, this case ended well for Douglas who is back to cycling and encouraging the CLS Team to keep up their cycling endeavours and the good work we do.”

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