14th May 2014
A York woman has received a motor accident compensation payout of £7,360 after she had her jaw broken following a cycling accident.
Lauren Wilkinson was on her way to work in Heworth when the front wheel of her bike dipped into a pothole, causing her to fly off the bike head-first. On hitting the ground, she fractured her jaw in two place, although she has since made a good recovery.
The Appeal Court in London heard that Lauren and her boyfriend surveyed the site and found a 4x30cm pothole in it, which prompted her to make a cycling accident claim against York Council for failing to maintain the road to a suitable level.
A district judge found the council liable for the injury after they only checked the state of the road annually, and ordered that it paid Lauren damages. However, he halved the amount awarded, stating that she should have kept a closer eye on the road conditions.
A later hearing at Leeds Crown Court found in the council's favour, before the three Appeal Court judges finally awarded Lauren the motor accident compensation, with Lord Justice Toulson commenting that "the district judge was fully entitled to conclude that it was the sort of road for which an inspection once a year was inadequate."
Lauren is far from alone in making this kind of claim – Ian Davis from Berkshire was awarded £7,600 after he was thrown from his bike on the B4000 between Lambourn and Newbury in February 2006.
And there could be more in the future, as two hard winters have left many roads damaged and the government spending cuts have affected local authorities' abilities to maintain and repair road surfaces.
Statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that whilst injuries sustained on the road are coming down, there were still a total of 222,146 casualties in 2009, including 2,222 people who lost their lives.
However, the National Travel Survey and the British Crime Survey suspect that the amount of people hurt on Britain's roads is closer to 700,000, with hundreds of thousands not seeking hospital treatment or making the police aware of the road traffic accident.
The DfT figures also show that failing to look properly was the most frequently reported contributory factor in road traffic accidents, occurring in 38 per cent of all incidents reported to the police in 2009.