On Friday 31st May 2013 at approximately 7.20pm Mr C was cycling on Trongate Glasgow.
Ahead of him was a queue of stationary traffic behind a set of red traffic lights.
As it was Mr C’s intention to visit the Tesco Store on the corner of Hutcheson Street, he moved out to pass a stationary car ensuring there was no oncoming traffic.
As he did this, a car driver attempted to turn into Hutcheson Street without checking her mirrors and collided with the cyclist causing him to sustain very severe fracture injuries to his left leg.
The bones beneath his knee penetrated his skin. He needed surgery to pin the fractures into place and also skin grafts.
He remained an in-patient at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for one week and had real difficulty coping when discharged home because he lived on the fourth floor of a tenement block of flats in Glasgow.
However, something rather unusual took place during the course of the Criminal investigation. The Police Officer who attended the scene of the accident charged the driver with careless driving. He took the view that the cyclist had sustained very serious injuries and it was clear to him that the driver had not checked her mirrors prior to turning. Further, although at the time of the incident the cyclist was filtering up the offside, drivers have a duty to watch out for filtering cyclists and motorcyclists. A glance in either her rear view or offside mirror would have revealed the presence of a cyclist and the incident would never have occurred. The police officer submitted the case to the Procurator Fiscal. He was later advised by the Procurator Fiscal that the case would not be taken any further and the charges against the driver had been dropped.
Cycle Law Scotland contacted the Procurator Fiscal for an explanation and were advised that the Crown had reached a decision that the prosecution of the driver had not been merited. This was despite the very serious injuries to the cyclist. The Crown accepted the incident happened in daylight hours and accepted the driver revealing that she had not seen the cyclist. The Crown maintained that the cyclist “did not maintain proper lane discipline by remaining behind the driver stationary vehicle”.
On that basis, the Crown was satisfied that the standard of driving did not fall below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver. We do know that the reporting officer confirmed that it was normal for cyclists and motorcyclists to filter. He recalled the driver admitting to him that she had not seen the cyclist which led the reporting officer to believe that she simply hadn’t looked.
In Civil Law, the standard is much lower and it was for the cyclist to prove on balance of probability the driver had been negligent.
We did that quite successfully and Mr C recovered a full award of damages at £20,000.
Although a happy ending with Mr C saying “thank you again for all your hard work, it means the world to me,” it does rather reveal a reluctance to prosecute on this occasion despite the driver failing to look and a young cyclist sustaining very serious injury.