Below is a post from a cycling forum by one of our clients sharing his experience of instructing Truth Legal:
At about 7.30am on a Friday in April I woke up in the middle of Roundhay Road (A four lane radial in Leeds). My first memory is only visual. I tried to raise my body from the tarmac, discovered that I was still on my bike and decided that I’d rather lie down again. I was surprised to be facing back the way I’d come from.
My next memory is purely audio. It’s of female voices saying “Oooooo… I don’t think we should move him.”
My third memory is of suddenly being half a traffic lane from the kerb, walking towards it. I don’t know how I got off the bike and upright. I don’t know what was happening to the rest of the traffic. These women were talking to me, or rather at me, asking me what I wanted to do. I said I just want to sit down for a bit, so I sat on the kerb. At some point I realised that one of the women was the driver of the car that had hit me and the other two her passengers. They kept asking me questions and I said that I just wanted to lie down for a bit, so they ran me back home. There was a hitch, as we couldn’t find my bike lock, to attach it to the railings. The lock had been flung right to the other side of the road.
On the way home the driver apologised for hitting me (She commented on my dayglo orange sleeved jacket, with reflective strips). She offered to pay for the damage to the bike and gave me her mobile number. At this point I was still thinking I’d just be getting to work a bit late.
After an hour of lying down, my left ankle in particular was giving me some pain. I phoned NHS Direct who seemed more concerned that I couldn’t tell them what had happened. So I went to casualty. The x-ray indicated merely severe bruising.
The driver phoned me a couple of times that day to check I was OK. Over the next few days I experienced massive mood swings, alternating between being extremely elated at simply being alive and being very flat. I was useless in either state!
On the Saturday I asked the driver if she had reported the accident. She said she didn’t want it to go through her insurance, and that she’d just pay me. I said I had no objection to that, but felt it ought to be recorded as an accident. As time went on I became increasingly uncomfortable with her reluctance to report the accident. I didn’t want to report it because I thought that might get her into trouble. On the other hand, for all I knew she might be trying to hide something. However I didn’t want to say that I was starting to have doubts about her. On Monday, when she evaded the question again I told her I wanted the incident log number for putting on my absence return at work. She then volunteered to phone my work and verify my story! I declined this offer and she said she’d get back to me.
On the Tuesday, when I spoke to the driver, she said she was working away, and would deal with it when she got back to Leeds. I repeated that I wanted an incident log number for the absence return, so I felt I would have to now report it. She agreed to me doing that, and asked me to give her the number so that she could follow it up when she got back.
I phoned the police (101) and gave a statement. They phoned me back, and asked me to attend a police station. The officer on the desk asked for a few extra details. But all I had was the driver’s first name and mobile phone number! She said that since there was no serious injury it was just a paper exercise. She would phone the driver and ask her to attend a police station to complete the paperwork.
When I was discussing the remains of my bike (companion for almost 25 years) with the bike shop mechanic, I apologised for not thinking too clearly. He nodded at the poor machine and said “You’re lucky to be thinking at all!” The frame was snapped in two places and irreparable.
A few days later a policeman visited me. He also seemed shocked by the state of the bike, and was surprised that I only had the driver’s first name and mobile number, so he gave me the rest of her details. He asked me if I wanted the police to take the matter further. At that point my position was that the driver had apologised and offered to pay for the bike, so, as long as she didn’t have a history of running people over, I was happy to let the matter lie. The policeman said he would check the driver’s history and get back to me if there was a problem.
Shortly after this, the driver stopped answering my calls, and didn’t return them either. She had apparently changed her mind about paying for the bike! I am a member of the Cycle Touring Club, and on the back of the membership card is an accident claims advice’ phone number. It turns out to be a ’personal injuries claim’ line. They seemed uninterested in my bike, and I sensed that they were trying to get me to talk up the injuries I had received. In the end they declined to represent me because my case was too small to be worth their while. I felt more than a little let down by this.
I tried a couple of other avenues to get redress, but none of them looked very hopeful. I thought I’d reached the end of the road. Then a friend advised me to speak to Andrew Gray at a company in Harrogate called ‘Truth Legal’. I was quite straight with Andrew, that I had little memory of what had happened, no witnesses and no interest in ‘talking up’ my injuries. Despite this Andrew indicated that he was prepared to act on my behalf on a ’no win no fee’ basis.
I think Andrew was very patient with me, I sometimes struggle to answer questions. For instance: How do you put a value on an old bike? When new it was a ’state of the art’ touring bike but the makers, Cannondale, no longer build tourers. The nearest thing they currently make are cyclocross bikes, ranging from £799.99 to £2299.99. So, depending on how you look at it, my old bike was either irreplaceable or (after 25 years) scrap metal. Similarly I struggled to answer the various medical questions.
About ten weeks after the accident Andrew advised me that the insurers for the driver had denied liability. They said that I acted negligently and that they would be providing witness evidence to prove it. Andrew didn’t seem worried about this so I decided I shouldn’t be either. Though it was, as he noted, disappointing.
Three weeks later, Andrew told me that the insurers had now admitted liability. It took them another 4 months to ‘cough up’, but Andrew warned me from the start that it would be a long process. I do feel a bit funny about the money. Had the driver been straight with me and made an offer, I think I would have accepted anything over £300. My share of the final settlement is more than eight times that.
I would recommend Andrew Gray of Truth Legal (in Harrogate) for dealing with awkward compensation claims.
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