We’ve previously written about the cyclists and pedestrians case of Brushett v Hazeldean, heard before Judge Shanti Mauger in the Central London County Court in June 2019. The case involved a pedestrian who was crossing the road while looking at her phone and was knocked over by a cyclist who had given warning of his approach. The pedestrian panicked when she saw the cyclist, Mr Hazeldean, at the last moment and stepped into the path that he was taking to try and avoid a collision. Both parties suffered injuries.
Equal liability for cyclists and pedestrians
At the initial hearing, the judge found both parties were equally liable for the incident and apportioned liability on a 50/50 basis. Subsequently, the court assessed the level of compensation payable to the claimant at £4,161.79. In addition, Mr Hazeldean, the defendant, will have to pay the legal costs of the case. This was a two-day trial and the costs submitted by Miss Brushett’s legal team amount to almost £100,000. Mr Hazeldean is responsible for paying the compensation to the claimant and her legal costs. Clearly, this is a very significant sum.
In the incident, both parties were knocked unconscious for a brief period of time. For his part, Mr Hazeldean was left with some residual scarring. However, when the claim was initially brought against him, he did not take legal advice and did not enter a counterclaim. This meant that when assessing the claim, even though the court found both parties equally responsible for the accident, it could not award any compensation for Mr Hazeldean nor could it award him his legal costs. As reported in The Guardian, Mr Hazeldean stated: “Had I had legal representation at the time of preparing my defence I would have taken those steps to protect me.”
Seek legal advice – early
Notwithstanding the outcome with regards to the issue of liability, there are some important lessons which cyclists can take from this case:
- The courts will, in appropriate circumstances, apply a high duty of care to cyclists when an incident involves an injury to a pedestrian;
- It is important to seek legal advice at an early stage in any claim to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect your position and your right to make a counterclaim, if appropriate. Mr Hazeldean’s legal representatives have stated that they would have advised him to bring a counterclaim, had he consulted them at an earlier stage of the proceedings;
- Regular cyclists should consider whether they have suitable third-party insurance cover under an existing insurance policy, such as their household insurance and, if not, they should consider obtaining a bespoke cycling-related third party insurance policy.
It remains to be seen what the final award of costs against Mr Hazeldean will be, as this is subject to further consideration by the court. It is being reported that he is being assisted by crowdfunding in respect of these costs.
John Hasson is a solicitor in our personal injury team. If you’ve been involved in an incident involving cyclists and pedestrians or you are a pedestrian who has been injured, please contact us by emailing [email protected] or calling 0117 904 6334.