Brownlie v Four Seasons Group
Ms Brushett succeeded in bringing a personal injury claim after she stepped into the path of an oncoming cyclist, Mr Hazeldean, while looking at her phone. Mr Hazeldean was passing through a green light at the time. However, the trial judge found Mr Hazeldean equally responsible for the collision as he had failed to cycle with reasonable care and skill which meant he had to pay damages.
The accident in Brushett v Hazeldean happened during evening rush hour in central London. Ms Brushett was part of a “throng” of pedestrians who were attempting to cross a pedestrian crossing at a busy junction. Ms Brushett accepted that she was looking at her phone while attempting to cross.
Mr Hazeldean had cycled through a green light and saw the group of pedestrians crossing the road in front of him. He blew a large air horn on his bike as he was approaching the group. When he was close to the crossing he shouted, braked and swerved in an attempt to avoid Ms Brushett. Unfortunately, as Mr Hazeldean swerved, Ms Brushett stepped back in an attempt to avoid Mr Hazeldean and a collision occurred. Both Ms Brushett and Mr Hazeldean were knocked unconscious.
Ms Brushett bought a personal injury claim in the London County Court in respect of a head injury involving concussion, dental injuries and facial scarring.
In her decision, District Judge Mauger found that while Mr Hazeldean “gave every impression of being a calm and reasonable road user”, he fell below the duty of care to be expected of a reasonably competent cyclist in that “he did proceed when the road was not completely clear.” She explained that “Even where a motorist or cyclist had the right of way, pedestrians who are established on the road have right of way.”
District Judge Mauger said that Ms Brushett must have contributed to the crash due to “crossing the road without looking – and if she is looking at her phone, even more so”. As a result the damages awarded to Ms Brushett were reduced by 50% from £8,323.57 to £4,161.79 to reflect that the parties were equally to blame for the accident.
As a cyclist myself, this case immediately grabbed my attention and it provides a number of important learning points (for both cyclist and pedestrian alike):
If you have been affected by a cycling or other personal injury accident, we would be happy to hear from you.
Christopher is a Trainee Solicitor. He is currently in his second seat in the Medical Negligence & Personal Injury team. Chris joined Kingsley Napley in January 2017 as a Legal Assistant in the Regulatory team, conducting Fitness to Practise investigations on behalf of regulatory bodies.
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