Cycling in Sydney Australia
A PEDESTRIAN who was seriously injured when hit by a cyclist after the Bathurst 1000 motor race has been awarded more than half a million dollars in damages.
One witness estimated the cyclist, Gavin Whiteman, was travelling at 70km/h down a steep hill when he hit Mark James in October 2009.
In the NSW District Court today, Justice Michael Elkaim found Whiteman's negligence was the cause of the injury which robbed Mr James, 49, of his livelihood as an abattoir worker.
He ordered Mr Whiteman to pay $541,990 in damages as well as legal costs.
I saw this yesterday. It looked like a civil action against the 30 year old defendant. I assume there would be no insurance, but they were represented by a reasonably big law firm - Moray and Agnew.
Wonder who pays, or does the defendant just go bankrupt? (unless they have some decent coin behind them).
I am a little unclear on the exact circumstnces, but from the story it appears as though a group of cyclists was riding on the racetrack some time after the completion of the Bathurst 1000. It does not say if the riders came off the track and hit the pedestrian, or whether the pedestrian was wandering over the track. It also doesn't say if the track was still closed to traffic at the time, or whether it had been reopened after the event (since the track is a regular public road).
One witness had the cyclist estimated at 70km/h, with the cyclist saying he estimate 20 to 30km/h. What is interesting is the comment from the judge: "even at the defendant's estimate of 20 to 30km/h the speed was too high".
Would be interesting to see the full details of the case. Regardless, this is one reason why public liability insurance is an extremely good idea. Thankfully it is included on most Home & Contents Insurance policies, so if Mr Whiteman had one of those, I'd expect he'd be covered.
Yet if it was the driver of the car who had hit a pedestrian at only 20 to 30km/h they would not doubt have been praised for driving slowly preventing the incident from being much worse.
I wonder whether the ped might have been better off if the traffic were a car: warning noise, powerful lights and possibly being pushed over the car rather than hit by a tall object. Although the CTP system might have awarded only a pittance
This might be a another reason to use bright lights.
I imagine the amount decided had to do with the injured party's loss of income. Be interesting to see if the assumed insurer appeals the amount. I'll guess that there has to be an insurer, otherwise it would not have been worth the cost of litigation.
Unless the rider has substantial assets I guess?
While I have BINSW insurance, I was interested and found this in my contents insurance (GIO):
Seems it may cover liability as in a case like this?
The exclusions to liability include liability caused by motor (but not non-motorised) vehicles. So liability from use of bikes may be covered. Although if breaking the law or recklessly disregarding consequences of action could also nullify liability.
It would explain the representation of the parties...
18c. Legal liability when you have contents cover
When you have contents cover under this policy
We cover your legal liability to pay compensation for an incident causing death or bodily injury to other people, or loss or damage to their property which happens anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.
Hopefully cyclists can use this as a precedent against car drivers.
A few 1/2 million awarded to cyclists endangered on our roads is far more effective than any advocacy pleading for infrastructure.
If it was on the race track road, assuming it had reverted back to the normal roadway after the race, and he was travelling at 70 clicks, the posted speed limit around the Mount is 60.
I can't imagine there being too many places other than down Conrod Straight where it would be possible to to 70, even going clockwise the descent is too windy to get up that kind of speed, so one can only assume the pedestrian was on the road when he was hit?
And finally, why on earth would you ride around Mt Panorama while all the V8 supercar yobbos are still in town? I know "I've got the right to ride here" but it would be a far from enjoyable experience.
Could have been one of the punters on a BSO?
Without all the facts this is a scary precedent. The way I read it I can be riding down any road in Sydney and if a ped steps out in front of me I am to blame. I am completely insured on my bike but I still dont want to go up against this precedent, especially since I pass the peds playing Frogger outside the Westpac building on Kent St every day.
That would be the case at the moment, as it is if you hit someone while driving a car.
As I understand it, you are to blame unless you can demonstrate that the pedestrian was doing something dangerous or illegal that caused you to hit them. (Crossing Kent St against a red signal outside Westpac would probably constitute both dangerous and illegal.)
If you were riding a bike on a completely straight and clear section of road, with good visibility, and you hit a pedestrian casually crossing the road, you would be lucky to avoid liability.