Cyclist Wins Pothole Injury Compensation

Cyclist Wins Injury Compensation Battle 25865

A cyclist from Hertfordshire has won his case against the County Council after he lost his job due to the injuries he suffered in a road accident when he came off his bicycle.

Alan Curtis, who lives in Bushey, was earning £96,000 a year in a charity fundraising directorship when he came off his bike after it hit a pothole in October 2009.

The accident in Rickmansworth led to him suffering a fractured skull, leaving him with hearing problems and short-term memory loss; the Evening Standard reports.

Mr Curtis, who also broke his arm in the accident, was eventually able to return to work, but had to take a less demanding post with a salary of only £30,000. He decided to sue the County Council due to its failure to maintain the road surface and ensure the safety of riders.

The bicycle accident claim was successful as Judge Pittaway QC awarded Mr Curtis £69,425, which includes £20,000 to cover any potential unemployment he may suffer should he be required to change jobs again. 

In making his adjudication, he said the accident will either have occurred because of Mr Curtis being thrown off his bike by hitting the pothole, or losing balance as he tried to swerve to avoid it.

Commenting after the award, the 56-year old told the Evening Standard, "I'm quite pleased. I have always said I never came into this for the money and I didn't expect to win a life-changing amount.

"But the more I thought about it and the more I realised I have got permanent injuries that I will have for the rest of my life, I just felt that someone ought to be held to account. In that sense, justice has been done."

The verdict was welcomed by Mr Curtis's solicitor Kevin O'Sullivan, who said the judgement may open the "floodgates" and lead to a series of further pothole injury compensation claims against Councils that fail to maintain the roads. 

Describing the outcome as "great news for cyclists", he criticised Hertfordshire County Council for not deciding to settle out of Court. 

However, the local authority was unhappy with the verdict. Its spokesman said, "Mr Curtis's pothole accident is regrettable. However, Hertfordshire County Council is disappointed with the outcome of the judgement."

The possibility of a large number of claims arising against Councils for pothole related accidents may be increased by the high number of such problems occurring on roads across the country, following the severe weather endured in the winter.

However, in his budget speech last week, chancellor George Osborne acknowledged that "our roads have taken a battering" and revealed that a £200 million cash pot will be made available for Councils to apply to access in order to fund road repairs.

This may lead to fewer problems in some local authorities, but where pothole accidents do occur, it may be that Councils unsuccessfully applying for funds attempt to use a lack of financial support as a defence. 

Conversely, those that do receive funds but fail to repair potholes may find any cases that arise harder to defend.

By Francesca Witney