The case of Robert Hazeldean - Cycling Insurance, and seeking independent legal advice
- AuthorKay Ditcham
There has been some publicity recently about the case of Robert Hazeldean, a cyclist who was involved in a collision with a pedestrian near London Bridge in July 2015. Tilly Bailey & Irvine's Solicitors explain why you should seek independent legal advice...
The pedestrian in question, Gemma Brushett, was using her mobile phone when she stepped into the path of Mr Hazeldean’s bicycle. They collided and both were knocked unconscious.
Ms Brushett brought a claim against Mr Hazeldean for her injuries. Had he been driving a motor vehicle, then the claim would have been directed against his motor insurers and legal advice would have been obtained. However, as he was a cyclist and did not have any relevant insurance cover, he decided to deal with the matter himself as a Litigant in Person rather than seeking legal advice.
There was a trial of the claim in June 2019 where the Judge found that both parties were equally responsible for the accident and awarded the Claimant £4000 in damages. However, because Mr Hazeldean had not brought a counterclaim, he could not recover anything for his injuries or offset any sums against the order made against him.
Had he sought legal advice from the outset, he would undoubtedly have been advised to counterclaim and in all probability, neither party would have owed the other much if anything at all. In the event, he stated that he was facing bankruptcy.
Further, if he had had legal representation, the Claimant’s legal costs would be subject to a fixed costs scheme, and she would have been entitled to just over £6000 in legal costs. However, because he was a Litigant in Person, the fixed costs are not applicable and the Claimant is seeking to recover a significantly higher amount.
Eventually at this stage Mr Hazeldean sought legal advice. He had stated that he did not do so earlier because, ironically, he was concerned about the cost of doing so. Further, he said that he did not agree with the “claim culture” – something which has been proven to be a myth. He obviously now regrets this decision and it is clear that it was in fact a decision which has cost him dearly.
Bike Insurance Conundrum
The ultimately deciding factor was his lack of bike insurance, so it begs the other question: should bike insurance be made compulsory?
It was a decision that divided many.
Hazeldean’s representatives, Levi Solicitors, says costs would have been limited significantly to around £7,000 if he had been insured. Had he sought legal advice earlier, the firm says it would also have advised him to counterclaim.
It is believed that approximately 5% of the UK population cycle regularly, with 2.5 million using a bike to get to work. Bike insurance is not compulsory, unlike car insurance, and it has sparked debate during cases such as this. The risk is creating what many call a “blanket law across society” by caving to such a rule.
Much of the focus in the media has been around the issue of cycling insurance, and whether it should be made compulsory. We believe, however, that the main point arising out of this is that you should always seek legal advice.
We would urge anybody involved in an accident to come and see our specialist team. We deal with large numbers of claims for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists and our first interview is free. Please contact our specialist team of personal injury solicitors across the North East on 0333 444 4422 or visit our offices in Hartlepool or Stockton.