Canberra is the cycling capital of Australia, with more cyclists per capita than any other city. It wouldn’t be uncommon if your weekend involved a relaxing ride around the lake, sun shining, taking in our stunning cityscape. You are probably aware of some of the cycling etiquette; stick to the left, ringing your bell when approaching pedestrians, but have you ever considered how you might be liable to other cyclists?
Last year a Canberra cyclist was ordered to pay $1.66m in damages, plus legal costs, to another cyclist. The case concerned two cyclists who were travelling together in a dedicated bicycle lane, with the defendant, Mr Blick, cycling slightly in front and to the left of the Plaintiff (Mr Franklin). The defendant failed to see a piece of wood lying on the ground and hit the wood, causing him to veer and collide with the plaintiff. As a result, the plaintiff fell from his bicycle onto the road and was subsequently struck by a passing motorist. The Court awarded the plaintiff $1.6 million in damages – a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeal last year – finding that the plaintiff’s injuries flowed directly from the negligence of the defendant. The Court found that the defendant breached the duty of care that he owed to the plaintiff by failing to keep a proper lookout, stating that a cyclist in his position ought to have seen the piece of wood lying on the ground and taken evasive action.
In this case the claim was covered by the defendant’s home insurance policy, crucial in situations when the injured person has suffered significant loss but the at-fault party has limited assets from which to pay any damages. If the defendant had no appropriate insurance policy, he would have had to pay the sum from his personal assets.
This case is a reminder about the obligation for cyclists to keep a proper lookout when riding, as a failure to do so could see you liable for any injuries caused to others. It’s also a reminder for all cyclists to ensure you are covered by insurance for your actions as a cyclist.
If you are a cyclist looking for advice on whether your insurance policy covers you for accident liability, or if you have been involved in a cycling accident and need to know your rights, contact our expert team at Chamberlains for an obligation free appointment. We’re in your corner.
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