Miss Belshaw contacted us in November 2013 after a cycling accident, which resulted in her sustaining a broken shoulder with permanent ongoing pain and restricted movement.
Miss Belshaw had been on an evening cycle ride with friends. She cycled along a downhill path and approached an area where concrete bollards had been erected to prevent access by cars.
The concrete bollards were clearly visible; it was getting dark, but their light colour and reflective markings showed up clearly, so Ms Belshaw steered her bike around them.
However unbeknown to her, at the edge of the path there was a dull-coloured wooden post. It was camouflaged against the surrounding foliage and in shadow. Compared to the clearly marked concrete bollards, it was practically invisible. Ms Belshaw cycled into the wooden post, fell off her bike and was injured.
Claim against the council
We pursued a claim against the local authority responsible for the cycle path. We alleged that they had a duty to maintain the path and keep it safe, and that the arrangement of the clearly marked bollards and the dull wooden post represented a foreseeable risk of injury to cyclists.
We argued that the wooden post served no useful purpose (it appeared to have been left over from a previous fence) and that as cyclists deliberately steered to avoid the concrete bollards, there was a high chance that they would collide with the post.
However, the council firmly denied liability. They disputed that the layout was dangerous. They also disputed that their duty to maintain the path extended to removing the post or adding reflective strips to it, which would have been simple and easy to do.
Despite us putting all our arguments to the council in clear detail, they continued to dispute the claim and therefore we had no option but to issue court proceedings against them. The claim went to trial in October 2016 and the District Judge agreed with our arguments.
He found in Miss Belshaw’s favour and awarded her over £22,000 in compensation. This included interest on the basis that we had given the council plenty of opportunity to settle the claim a long time ago, and that we had made a sensible settlement offer which they failed to accept.
Understandably, Miss Belshaw was delighted with the outcome. She sent us her thanks for “all [our] hard work in helping win [her] case” and she praised our barrister for “the way he presented [her] case in court”.