High Court: Cyclist whose foot was broken in Dublin collision awarded €20,000



High Court
High Court

A cyclist who suffered a broken foot when a motorist drove over his foot at a junction has been awarded €20,640 in the High Court.

His original claim was for €51,600 in damages, however Mr Justice David Keane apportioned only 40 per cent liability to the motorist for failing to keep a proper lookout, and 60 per cent liability to the cyclist for breaking a red light immediately before the collision.

Background

On 18 May 2015, Pat Deegan was cycling to his bicycle shop in Sandymount when he was involved in an accident wherein a wheel of the vehicle being driven by Jennifer McPartlin rolled over his left foot. Mr Deegan suffered a fragmented fracture which required surgery the following day, after which he was unable to work for three weeks.

The locus of the accident was at the junction of Eglinton Road and Brookvale Road in Donnybrook, Co Dublin. Mr Deegan was travelling on the cycle lane on Eglinton Road, and there was some controversy as to whether he had broken a red light on a pedestrian crossing immediately prior to the accident. Ms McPartlin was attempting to edge on to Eglinton Road from Brookvale Road, and in the process of doing so, her jeep blocked the cycle lane. Mr Deegan entered the yellow box at the edge of the cycle lane and stopped to the right of her jeep, putting his foot on the ground as she continued to edge out. Ms McPartlin did not see Mr Deegan until after the accident when he alerted her by thumping the bonnet of her car and she reversed off his foot.

Personal injury proceedings

In the High Court, Mr Deegan claimed that the accident was caused by the negligence of Ms McPartlin. He pleaded that she drove without due care and attention; caused the collision; failed to notice Mr Deegan and his bicycle; failed to have regard to prevailing driving conditions; drove without reasonable consideration; failed to keep a proper lookout; failed to ensure that the main road was clear before emerging onto it; and failed to yield right of way to Mr Deegan.

Ms McPartlin pleaded that Mr Deegan’s injuries were caused by his own actions, either in whole or in part. She submitted that he failed to take reasonable care for his own safety; failed to cycle with due care and attention; caused the collision; failed to stop at a red light; failed to have regard to the prevailing traffic conditions; cycled without reasonable consideration for other road users; entered a yellow box junction when his route through it was not clear; failed to cycle in the cycle lane provided; and was the author of his own misfortune.

The pedestrian crossing

Mr Deegan’s evidence was that he had been travelling along Eglinton Road and that, when he cycled through the pedestrian crossing beside the junction, the light was amber. He pleaded that Ms McPartlin’s jeep was blocking the cycle lane, causing him to stop beside her. He said that she was looking in the opposite direction and edging out onto the road when she drove onto his foot.

On behalf of Ms McPartlin, another cyclist, Ms Darcy, who witnessed the accident gave evidence that she had stopped at the pedestrian crossing because the light was red, and that Mr Deegan had deliberately cycled through it to prevent braking. She said that there was “a minor tip” between Mr Deegan’s bike and Ms McPartlin’s jeep immediately prior to the accident. Ms Darcy said that she clearly remembered Mr Deegan cycling through the red light because other cyclists breaking red lights was a bugbear of hers.

Another witness on behalf of Ms McPartlin was a driver who had stopped to let Ms McPartlin out at the junction. Having witnessed the accident, she also said that lights at the pedestrian crossing were red.

Ruling

Preferring the evidence of Ms Darcy, who he described as “a disinterested witness”, Mr Justice Keane was satisfied that Mr Deegan broke a red light at the pedestrian crossing on Eglinton Road.

Mr Justice Keane found, on the balance of probabilities, that Ms McPartlin did not maintain a proper lookout to her right because the lights at the pedestrian crossing were red for traffic, and therefore assumed that there would not be traffic between the lights and the junction. He said that Mr Deegan belatedly realised that Ms McPartlin had not seen him and swerved to his right out of the cycle lane and into the yellow box at the junction to avoid a collision.

Finding that Ms McPartlin was negligent in failing to maintain a proper lookout when entering the junction from a minor to a major road, Mr Justice Keane apportioned liability at 40 per cent.

Apportioning 60 per cent liability to Mr Deegan, Mr Justice Keane said that Mr Deegan was reckless in cycling through a red light at the pedestrian crossing immediately adjacent to the junction.

At the outset of the hearing, damages were agreed at €50,000, together with €1,600 in special damages. As such, Mr Deegan was awarded €20,640.

© Irish Legal News Ltd 2020



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