London cyclist Kevin Fallon is suing a driver and their passenger after being ‘doored’ in 2010.
As well as seeking £200,000 in damages, Mr Fallon would like the law changed so that liability is presumed against car users, reports The London Evening Standard.
Mr Fallon, 48, hit a car door that was suddenly opened into his path in 2010 whilst cycling through Dalston on his way to work. Although he wore a helmet he suffered a brain haemorrhage as a result of the accident.
Three years on, Mr Fallon says he still suffers from headaches as a result of his injuries and is now more prone to changes in mood and low energy. The injuries he sustained have left him at greater risk of epileptic fits in future.
In a landmark case Mr Fallon is suing the driver of the vehicle who’s door he hit, and the passenger who opened the door into his path without looking. He hopes to win £200,000 in compensation from the legal action.
The number of incidents of dooring – opening a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist – has risen 25% nationally since 2011, as more and more people ditch cars and public transport to cycle to work. Many of the injuries are minor as cyclists are able to swerve to reduce the impact, but one in six dooring incidents results in serious injury.
Olympic cycling death
The tragic death of London cyclist Sam Harding last August brought the issue of dooring into the spotlight. Mr Harding was cycling in a bus lane when a car door was opened in front of him. He was unable to avoid the impact and was flung from his bike into the path of an oncoming bus, dying at the scene.
The driver in that case, Kenan Aydogdu, was cleared by a jury of manslaughter last December, after he admitted opening the door without looking, prompting Mr Harding’s father to campaign for a change in the law.
In Mr Fallon’s case he would like a change in the law such that the least vulnerable road user has ‘presumed liability’ for any accident with a more vulnerable road user. In this case the car owner would be presumed liable after the collision with the cyclist.
The onus would then be on the driver to show that they had acted properly and safely and that the accident was caused by the cyclist’s own behaviour.
The UK is one of only a few European countries that does not have a strict liability law to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Many including Holland, Denmark and France operate such a policy and have done for many years.
“There are only a handful of countries in Europe which do not have a policy of strict negligence and the UK is one of them,” Mr Fallon told The Evening Standard.
“It is a civil law, which would state that the motorist has to prove that he did not cause the crash,” he added.
Critics argue that a new law is unnecessary, and that a campaign of driver awareness of cyclists and more cautious cycling around parked cars could reduce the number of ‘dooring’ incidents in future.
Cyclist injured by car door sues driver for £200,000 (The Evening Standard)
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