Presumed Liability Case Study: Jamie Aarons 


Jamie Aarons contacted Cycle Law Scotland on 24th January 2012.  She gave a history of having been involved in a non-fault accident.  She described cycling on her mountain bike on Govan Road, Glasgow at approximately 7.30pm on 19th January.  Her lights were fully functional.  She was wearing a high visibility jacket and white helmet.  She had reflectors on her bike.  She was wearing a protective Giro cycling helmet.  She recalled passing through pedestrian lights and thereafter noticing a series of parked cars to her nearside.  Unfortunately a taxi driver parked on her nearside opened his door into her path.  She had no opportunity to take evasive action.

The taxi driver was initially very reasonable.  He helped pick up the bike and confirmed with Jamie her lights were fully functional.  He provided Jamie with his mobile number and left the scene.  She made contact with the taxi driver at a later point to advise him that her bike was damaged and her helmet needed to be replaced and at that point the taxi driver confirmed that he would sue her for damage caused to his vehicle. 

Jamie didn't initially involve the police because, as noted, the driver was reasonable and accepted responsibility. When she was later in contact with him and he not only denied fault but threatened to claim against her, Jamie then took steps to involve the police. At this stage an officer spent at least an hour taking a statement in person, as well as further time spent on written and telephone correspondence; drafting his own report; and pursuing CCTV footage of the accident. 

On 26th January 2012 a claim was intimated directly to the taxi driver’s insurance company in which we set out the circumstances of the accident.  Astonishingly, liability was denied with the third party insurance company maintaining they had eight witnesses all of whom would support the taxi driver.  On 22nd February 2012 the third party insurer suggested that we serve Court proceedings. Investigations into liability and quantum continued. 

In July 2012 we had no option other than to raise proceedings in the Court of Session on behalf of Jamie Aarons.  Defences lodged on behalf of International Insurance Company of Hannover Limited maintained that Jamie Aarons was to blame for the accident on the basis that the taxi driver was returning to his parked vehicle had checked there was no traffic and opened his door.  It was suggested that the taxi driver had got into the drivers’ seat of his vehicle and Jamie Aarons had cycled passed his vehicle and fell off her bicycle.  It was indicated in the Defences there had been no impact between the vehicles in question.

This action was set down for a final Court hearing.  On 20th November 2012 the solicitors representing the insurance company did a complete about turn and offered to settle the client’s claim at a figure of £6,500. 

Jamie Aarons accepted this offer and matters were concluded on her behalf.  It should be noted that on top of paying Jamie Aarons a moderate sum of money the third party insurance company had to pay a sum of £11,700 by way of Court costs and outlays.  That figure does not include the cost of their own legal representation.

Jamie Aarons was traumatised by this accident.  Had presumed liability operated it is likely that her claim would have settled within a period of 12 weeks following upon the accident.  Instead Jamie Aarons was forced to raise proceedings in the Court of Session and battle against a large insurance company.  Whilst it is accepted that the case took an 11 month period it should never have had to have been raised in Court in the first instance.  


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