Potholes, pavements and personal injury…

Today I’m taking time from my more specific work with two wheels to consider something possibly more relatable to the majority of the public, though absolutely relevant to two wheeled road users too! The condition of the road, highways, and pavements.

Though as road users I’d argue we’ve all had to take evasive action to miss a pothole, grid, or substance on or/in the carriageway, as a pedestrian, cyclist or a motorcyclist sometimes it’s simply hidden from us or it’s a choice between the better of two evils.

I recently had the opportunity to help a gentleman cyclist whose front wheel had become caught in a pothole on a very busy road causing him to be thrown from his bike. On the road in question given the speed and volume of traffic, the rider was unable to simply swerve around it for fear of being run over by other traffic. Instead he suffered a nasty fracture which caused him to take quite a bit of time off work, for which he wasn’t paid until liability was determined.

Now in the case of cyclists and pedestrians, I can hear cries of Road Tax and the like but let’s be quite honest about this, ‘Road Tax’ doesn’t exist anymore, and hasn’t done since 1937! Its replacement ‘Vehicle Excise Duty’ is based upon the emissions of the vehicle and is in fact payable to the General Treasury Fund in any event – in reality it is a tax on pollution. Of course in the vast majority of cases, pedestrians and cyclists will in fact pay towards another form of motorised transport.

In another successful case, my client was crossing a road between a car park and a row of shops when their foot became caught in a rutted groove in the middle of the road. When we obtained measurements the groove was approximately 3 inches deep and 5 foot in length!? What would in anybody’s mind appear to be a busy main road was in fact more like a country lane!

Now it’s easy to suggest that people need to take more care and attention, certainly there are some cases where the judiciary have been keen to comment upon this and rightly so, but this in itself is not a defence, nor an excuse to turn a walk to the shops into an obstacle course.

In certain cases the hazard simply isn’t known about until it’s too late. As a pedestrian this is often the case where paving flags are unsteady or uneven, and as a road user diesel is a prime example. But of course sometimes there just in an alternative route.

But what is reasonable under the circumstances?

Well, I’d say that depends on the location and the environment at the time. In a busy urban environment with lots of traffic which can be dangerous in itself, more care is obviously required but it’s wrong to say that all of these incidents are avoidable. How does the brain process so many hazards? We are only human after all.

Posted on September 4th, 2015 by Burd Ward