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Accidents that occur when cyclists overtake haulage vehicles on the inside are all too common. In a recent case, a woman cyclist who was very seriously injured in a collision with a left-turning articulated HGV has won her battle for compensation.
The woman sustained catastrophic head injuries in the accident, following which she suffered three cardiac arrests, was unconscious for a month, in intensive care for 12 weeks, and in hospital for 15 months. She has been left intellectually impaired, wheelchair dependent and in need of around-the-clock care.
The basic facts were not in dispute. The HGV had stopped at traffic lights and was straddled across two lanes of traffic. The driver accepted that it may have looked as though he was moving to his right, so traffic in the nearside lane might have thought it was safe to pass on the inside, but he was indicating his intention to make a left turn. When the lights changed, he set off at the same time as the cyclist passed on the near side of his vehicle and across its front as it made the turn.
Following a trial of her claim, a judge found the lorry driver 70 per cent to blame for the collision. Turning left in effect from the right-hand lane made the manoeuvre particularly hazardous. Furthermore, his indicator light had been masked from the cyclist's view by another vehicle and he had failed to take enough care in checking his mirrors both before and during the manoeuvre.
In rejecting a challenge to those findings and an assertion that the accident had been caused by the cyclist, the Court of Appeal noted that the lorry, due to its size and bulk, represented a grave danger to other road users, particularly cyclists. The judge had been entitled to conclude that, by the time the lorry began to turn left, it was too late for the cyclist to avoid the collision.
The amount of the woman's compensation has yet to be assessed but, given the extent of her disabilities, it is likely to be a seven-figure sum.