The case of Franklin v Blick  ACTSC 273 should be enough to send a shudder down the spine of all those lycra-clad cyclist we see on our roads nowadays (the writer being one of them – although eschewing the wearing of lycra).
On 30 October 2014, the plaintiff in this case was awarded over $1.6 million after being knocked off his bicycle by another cyclist and then being run over by a car.
He had been in a dedicated cycleway at the time. The defendant was riding in the same cycleway and direction, but was slightly in front of and to the left of the plaintiff. The bicycle ridden by the defendant hit a piece of wood on the road, causing the defendant to veer and collide with the plaintiff. The plaintiff then fell from his bicycle onto the road in the motor vehicle lane, and was struck by a car. There was no suggestion the driver of the car was negligent. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries, and claimed damages from the defendant on the basis that his injuries were caused by the defendant’s negligence.
The Court held: “One thing is certain. This large piece of wood was lying on the cycleway directly in the path of the defendant’s bicycle. The lighting in the area was good. Having seen the photograph of the piece of wood which was struck by the defendant, and bearing in mind the quality of the lighting at the scene and the moderate speed at which the defendant was travelling, I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defendant would have seen the piece of wood in adequate time to take evasive action had he been keeping a proper lookout for objects on the cycleway. I cannot be satisfied that the piece of wood was positioned in such a way, prior to being struck by the defendants bicycle, that the plaintiff would have seen it had he been keeping a proper lookout.”
The case apparently caused a surge in interest in policies of insurance written specifically for cyclists, although the claim itself was covered by the defendant’s home insurance policy.
The Insurance Council of Australia was quoted as confirming such incidents were covered by some home insurance policies, and more specific coverage for cycling was also available through clubs and for individuals.
The moral of the story is, if you cycle and you are in doubt as to the extent of your available cover for an incident like this; seek advice.
If you have any questions about this update, please contact Stephen Williams (08) 9321 3755.
The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.