Cyclist who couldn’t remember being mown down and neck broken ‘denied justice’Sarah Barth December 17 2016
A cyclist who was left in a critical state by an elderly driver who hit her with his car has said that she was denied justice when he escaped without sanction.
Jennifer Wallace was riding on a road in the Scottish Borders when she was hit, suffering ten broken bones in her neck and spine, a collapsed lung, broken ribs, and a head injury that left her with no memory of events. An initial police report described Ms Wallace’s injuries as “slight”, according to the Times.
The lack of recollection meant that the procurator fiscal ruled out a criminal prosecution and the driver’s insurer fought against a civil claim, something Ms Wallace said could be prevented with a system of presumed liability.
There is already a campaign for presumed liability in the UK, in which the motorist is considered to be liable under civil (but not criminal) law unless proven otherwise.
She said: “I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this level of emotional and physical trauma.
“I was the one who was seriously hurt and yet I was made to feel worthless by the police and the insurers.”
Ms Wallace spent her 49th birthday in intensive care, but has managed to return to cycling.
She said: “Introducing a system of presumed liability could be the catalyst for all road users to think differently when they get into their cars and for everyone to think about the person and the injuries caused, not about attributing blame.”
Solicitor Brenda Mitchell, founder of Cycle Law Scotland, believes the fault-based system should be scrapped.
“Because it is up to the cyclist to prove, on the balance of probability, the driver’s negligence, it is often the case that a large insurer will sit back and say ‘prove it’,” she said.
“A system of presumed liability in civil law, which puts the vulnerable victims of road traffic collisions first, would remove the adversarial nature of claims, speed up the process and ultimately lead to less litigation.”