County council 'disappointed' with High Court judgement

Bushey cyclist injured after pothole accident awarded £70,000 by county council

Bushey cyclist injured after pothole accident awarded £70,000 by county council

First published in News by

The county council has been forced to pay nearly £70,000 in compensation to a cyclist who was catastrophically injured after swerving to avoid a pothole.

Alan Curtis, a charity fundraiser, sustained skull fractures and a broken arm after hurtling over the handlebars of his bike in The Drive, Rickmansworth, in October 2009, London's High Court heard yesterday.

He has no memory of the accident, was left with long-term hearing problems and mild brain damage and has problems "processing information".
 
The 57-year-old had to leave his £90,000 a year job where he had run a successful team following the fall, and switch to a "less stressful" job, Judge David Pittaway QC told the court, .

The judge found Hertfordshire County Council in breach of its duty to inspect and maintain highways n its area, awarding Mr Curtis compensation totalling £69,425, including interest.

Mr Curtis, of Chiltern Avenue, Bushey, was with a group of friends training for a charity bike ride when he came to grief, said the judge.

A regular cyclist, Mr Curtis would cover 50 miles on a trip, and was described as a "careful and sensible cyclist".

He was travelling at up to 20mph when he approached the pothole and probably lost control when he swerved to avoid it.

Dismissing claims that Mr Curtis should have noticed the defect in the road, the judge said he would have had no time to avoid the hazard and cleared him of all responsibility for the accident.

The council had inspected the road in March 2009 - seven months before the crash - but did not take steps to repair it.

His cycling companions told how Mr Curtis disappeared from view ahead of them as he went downhill towards the accident scene, and were suddenly confronting the spectacle of his battered body on the road.

He was rushed to hospital by paramedics where he received emergency surgery for his injuries.

Judge Pittaway said the precise cause of the accident remained unclear, although Mr Curtis' friends had gone back to take exhaustive photos of the scene.

He may have come off his bike when his front wheel ploughed into the pothole, said the judge. However, the more likely cause was him "swerving and losing control" when he spotted the hole.

Mr Curtis "never cycled faster than he should", said the judge.

Andrew Dawson at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "Mr Curtis’s accident is regrettable.

"However, Hertfordshire County Council is disappointed with the outcome of today’s judgement."

Comments (21)

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9:18am Thu 20 Mar 14

RadioactiveRant says...

And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.
And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country. RadioactiveRant
  • Score: 15

9:20am Thu 20 Mar 14

S/O man says...

Was he wearing a helmet? being a "careful and sensible cyclist" probably not as with most regular cyclists, they tend to think they don't need one, on a personal note my helmet saved my life 7 years ago.
Was he wearing a helmet? being a "careful and sensible cyclist" probably not as with most regular cyclists, they tend to think they don't need one, on a personal note my helmet saved my life 7 years ago. S/O man
  • Score: -21

9:35am Thu 20 Mar 14

S/O man says...

I'm suprised that Top Gear have not done a pot hole special yet.
I'm suprised that Top Gear have not done a pot hole special yet. S/O man
  • Score: -2

10:05am Thu 20 Mar 14

Cuetip says...

RadioactiveRant wrote:
And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.
truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads.

We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes.

The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.
[quote][p][bold]RadioactiveRant[/bold] wrote: And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.[/p][/quote]truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads. We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes. The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night. Cuetip
  • Score: 16

10:44am Thu 20 Mar 14

captain lard says...

S/O man wrote:
Was he wearing a helmet? being a "careful and sensible cyclist" probably not as with most regular cyclists, they tend to think they don't need one, on a personal note my helmet saved my life 7 years ago.
Most? I don't know where you cycle but on the 1000's of miles I cover each year almost all 'regular cyclists' I see are wearing them. It tends to be kids and the less serious cyclist making short trips that tend not to, in my experience.
[quote][p][bold]S/O man[/bold] wrote: Was he wearing a helmet? being a "careful and sensible cyclist" probably not as with most regular cyclists, they tend to think they don't need one, on a personal note my helmet saved my life 7 years ago.[/p][/quote]Most? I don't know where you cycle but on the 1000's of miles I cover each year almost all 'regular cyclists' I see are wearing them. It tends to be kids and the less serious cyclist making short trips that tend not to, in my experience. captain lard
  • Score: 12

10:58am Thu 20 Mar 14

QuietasaMouseRous says...

S/O man wrote:
Was he wearing a helmet? being a "careful and sensible cyclist" probably not as with most regular cyclists, they tend to think they don't need one, on a personal note my helmet saved my life 7 years ago.
Yes he was
[quote][p][bold]S/O man[/bold] wrote: Was he wearing a helmet? being a "careful and sensible cyclist" probably not as with most regular cyclists, they tend to think they don't need one, on a personal note my helmet saved my life 7 years ago.[/p][/quote]Yes he was QuietasaMouseRous
  • Score: 14

11:10am Thu 20 Mar 14

Sara says...

Am I alone in thinking HCC could at least have expressed regret for the accident, if necessary without an admission of liability?
Am I alone in thinking HCC could at least have expressed regret for the accident, if necessary without an admission of liability? Sara
  • Score: 8

11:23am Thu 20 Mar 14

johnhornet says...

Herts CC & their contractors need to take note of this and sort out the roads. Some of them have huge holes in and get marked with white paint but not fixed. Herts would be liable in these cases as they know that there are defects but don't fix them.
Some of the fixes that are done are truly awful - the roundabout in Bushey Mill Lane for example. The road surface in the middle of the roundabout was really scarred and someone came along and slung a little bit of tarmac in badly. A blind 85 year old tea lady could have done a better job, and on the edge of the roundabout the big holes remain.
No doubt the CC have been invoiced money for that work - if so its a scandal!
Herts CC & their contractors need to take note of this and sort out the roads. Some of them have huge holes in and get marked with white paint but not fixed. Herts would be liable in these cases as they know that there are defects but don't fix them. Some of the fixes that are done are truly awful - the roundabout in Bushey Mill Lane for example. The road surface in the middle of the roundabout was really scarred and someone came along and slung a little bit of tarmac in badly. A blind 85 year old tea lady could have done a better job, and on the edge of the roundabout the big holes remain. No doubt the CC have been invoiced money for that work - if so its a scandal! johnhornet
  • Score: 9

11:38am Thu 20 Mar 14

Sara says...

Apologies, my comment above should have contained the word 'more' in front of 'regret'. Not sure who is engaging it - you don't think the County Council should say sorry?
Apologies, my comment above should have contained the word 'more' in front of 'regret'. Not sure who is engaging it - you don't think the County Council should say sorry? Sara
  • Score: 1

12:40pm Thu 20 Mar 14

garston tony says...

An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much.

But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash.

Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here!
An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much. But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash. Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here! garston tony
  • Score: 0

12:47pm Thu 20 Mar 14

not a regular says...

Cuetip wrote:
RadioactiveRant wrote: And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.
truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads. We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes. The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.
How is using a cheaper material to stretch a budget further a bad thing exactly? Asphalt also moves with tree roots rather than slabs which pop up and create trip hazards. Slabs also succumb to vehicle overrun far quicker than asphalt. You can either have sustainable footways throughout the county or you can have "pretty" footways with a higher chance of causing a danger to pedestrians.
[quote][p][bold]Cuetip[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RadioactiveRant[/bold] wrote: And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.[/p][/quote]truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads. We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes. The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.[/p][/quote]How is using a cheaper material to stretch a budget further a bad thing exactly? Asphalt also moves with tree roots rather than slabs which pop up and create trip hazards. Slabs also succumb to vehicle overrun far quicker than asphalt. You can either have sustainable footways throughout the county or you can have "pretty" footways with a higher chance of causing a danger to pedestrians. not a regular
  • Score: -2

12:57pm Thu 20 Mar 14

not a regular says...

garston tony wrote:
An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much. But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash. Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here!
Exactly what I thought. How does the judge know Mr Curtis "never cycled faster than he should". I average 16mph on a relatively flat journey on an old bike.

Unless there is GPS data to suggest otherwise I would imagine on a downhill a cyclist that regularly does 50 miles at a time and is training for an event will be going well over 30mph on a downhill. Mr Curtis "disappeared out of sight" from his friends. That would be breaking the speed limit.

Herts CC are of course still liable - an inspection should ideally be undertaken every quarter on that type of road. The article doesn't mention whether there were any defects found on the road in the inspection seven months prior, just that no maintenance was carried out (required?).

This is obviously an unfortunate incident and my thoughts would have gone out to Mr Curtis five years ago. But given what is written in the article it seems there were too many assumptions made by the judge.
[quote][p][bold]garston tony[/bold] wrote: An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much. But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash. Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here![/p][/quote]Exactly what I thought. How does the judge know Mr Curtis "never cycled faster than he should". I average 16mph on a relatively flat journey on an old bike. Unless there is GPS data to suggest otherwise I would imagine on a downhill a cyclist that regularly does 50 miles at a time and is training for an event will be going well over 30mph on a downhill. Mr Curtis "disappeared out of sight" from his friends. That would be breaking the speed limit. Herts CC are of course still liable - an inspection should ideally be undertaken every quarter on that type of road. The article doesn't mention whether there were any defects found on the road in the inspection seven months prior, just that no maintenance was carried out (required?). This is obviously an unfortunate incident and my thoughts would have gone out to Mr Curtis five years ago. But given what is written in the article it seems there were too many assumptions made by the judge. not a regular
  • Score: -2

1:03pm Thu 20 Mar 14

RadioactiveRant says...

garston tony wrote:
An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much.

But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash.

Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here!
Criminal cases are beyond reasonable doubt, civil cases on the balance of probabilities. You only have to look at most of our roads to see they're an accident waiting to happen.
[quote][p][bold]garston tony[/bold] wrote: An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much. But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash. Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here![/p][/quote]Criminal cases are beyond reasonable doubt, civil cases on the balance of probabilities. You only have to look at most of our roads to see they're an accident waiting to happen. RadioactiveRant
  • Score: 6

1:20pm Thu 20 Mar 14

RadioactiveRant says...

Cuetip wrote:
RadioactiveRant wrote:
And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.
truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads.

We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes.

The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.
Asphalt pavements are fine but will only last so long, typically needing the surface course planing and replacing every 10 years. Even slabs need to be reset as rain and tree roots undermine the base.

You can tell from installation of cable ducts in the pavements that started around 1993 that too many of them haven't had any attention in over 20 years.
[quote][p][bold]Cuetip[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RadioactiveRant[/bold] wrote: And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.[/p][/quote]truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads. We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes. The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.[/p][/quote]Asphalt pavements are fine but will only last so long, typically needing the surface course planing and replacing every 10 years. Even slabs need to be reset as rain and tree roots undermine the base. You can tell from installation of cable ducts in the pavements that started around 1993 that too many of them haven't had any attention in over 20 years. RadioactiveRant
  • Score: 5

2:53pm Thu 20 Mar 14

nickelarse says...

I cycle to work each day, and the road conditions are awful.

Not only are the pot holes dangerous in themselves, but the nature of avoiding them is also very dangerous. There have been too many incidents where I have been physically pushed off the road (usually buses), brushed by cars, and cut up. This is usually as a result of most people assuming that, regardless of the road ahead or speed I am travelling, they have a right/need to overtake me as I am on a bike.

When you already have cars speeding past only a couple of inches away from your handle bars, having to then consider pot holes and try to avoid these is far too dangerous.

Longspring in the Harebreaks is particularly bad. I am having to reconsider having any more children due to the affects it is having on my anatomy.
I cycle to work each day, and the road conditions are awful. Not only are the pot holes dangerous in themselves, but the nature of avoiding them is also very dangerous. There have been too many incidents where I have been physically pushed off the road (usually buses), brushed by cars, and cut up. This is usually as a result of most people assuming that, regardless of the road ahead or speed I am travelling, they have a right/need to overtake me as I am on a bike. When you already have cars speeding past only a couple of inches away from your handle bars, having to then consider pot holes and try to avoid these is far too dangerous. Longspring in the Harebreaks is particularly bad. I am having to reconsider having any more children due to the affects it is having on my anatomy. nickelarse
  • Score: 6

4:40pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Boosey says...

nickelarse wrote:
I cycle to work each day, and the road conditions are awful.

Not only are the pot holes dangerous in themselves, but the nature of avoiding them is also very dangerous. There have been too many incidents where I have been physically pushed off the road (usually buses), brushed by cars, and cut up. This is usually as a result of most people assuming that, regardless of the road ahead or speed I am travelling, they have a right/need to overtake me as I am on a bike.

When you already have cars speeding past only a couple of inches away from your handle bars, having to then consider pot holes and try to avoid these is far too dangerous.

Longspring in the Harebreaks is particularly bad. I am having to reconsider having any more children due to the affects it is having on my anatomy.
Pushed off the road by a bus? Yeah whatever!
[quote][p][bold]nickelarse[/bold] wrote: I cycle to work each day, and the road conditions are awful. Not only are the pot holes dangerous in themselves, but the nature of avoiding them is also very dangerous. There have been too many incidents where I have been physically pushed off the road (usually buses), brushed by cars, and cut up. This is usually as a result of most people assuming that, regardless of the road ahead or speed I am travelling, they have a right/need to overtake me as I am on a bike. When you already have cars speeding past only a couple of inches away from your handle bars, having to then consider pot holes and try to avoid these is far too dangerous. Longspring in the Harebreaks is particularly bad. I am having to reconsider having any more children due to the affects it is having on my anatomy.[/p][/quote]Pushed off the road by a bus? Yeah whatever! Boosey
  • Score: -8

5:42pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Cuthbert007 says...

Why only £70k payout. He had to give up his job of £90k a year. I think closer to £1 million would be more appropriate.
Why only £70k payout. He had to give up his job of £90k a year. I think closer to £1 million would be more appropriate. Cuthbert007
  • Score: 0

5:45pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Cuthbert007 says...

Only £70k compensation. He deserves over £1 million considering he had to give up his £90k a year job. Discusting payout!! And to have to wait 4 years for it. Works out £10 a year. Thats not goin to go far.
Only £70k compensation. He deserves over £1 million considering he had to give up his £90k a year job. Discusting payout!! And to have to wait 4 years for it. Works out £10 a year. Thats not goin to go far. Cuthbert007
  • Score: 0

5:50pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Cuthbert007 says...

£10k a year
£10k a year Cuthbert007
  • Score: -2

9:11pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Cuetip says...

RadioactiveRant wrote:
Cuetip wrote:
RadioactiveRant wrote:
And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.
truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads.

We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes.

The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.
Asphalt pavements are fine but will only last so long, typically needing the surface course planing and replacing every 10 years. Even slabs need to be reset as rain and tree roots undermine the base.

You can tell from installation of cable ducts in the pavements that started around 1993 that too many of them haven't had any attention in over 20 years.
One wonders where all our taxes are going. Poorly maintained footways and roads with 'basic or value' products now being offered with little maintenance of gullies or deep cleaning of the drains.

According to policy guidelines there could be at least a 4 week delay before they will consider casting an eye over malfunctioning street lights which with trip hazards and the light switch off leaves residents wondering how long they have to wait in A & E or for a bed.

Meanwhile they continue to turn a blind eye to dealing with residential developments that smash up pavements. Surely those engaged in building work should also foot the bill for ensuring that the pavement is repaired and safe especially from a health and safety angle for their workers.
[quote][p][bold]RadioactiveRant[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Cuetip[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RadioactiveRant[/bold] wrote: And this was four years ago, the roads in Herts have got considerably worse since. Parts of our road network would embarrass a developing country.[/p][/quote]truly disgraceful what is happening to our footways and roads. We no longer have slabs for pavements as tar is better at stretching the budget and now we don't have tar to fill the holes. The political spin is sending far too many of us down a black hole at night.[/p][/quote]Asphalt pavements are fine but will only last so long, typically needing the surface course planing and replacing every 10 years. Even slabs need to be reset as rain and tree roots undermine the base. You can tell from installation of cable ducts in the pavements that started around 1993 that too many of them haven't had any attention in over 20 years.[/p][/quote]One wonders where all our taxes are going. Poorly maintained footways and roads with 'basic or value' products now being offered with little maintenance of gullies or deep cleaning of the drains. According to policy guidelines there could be at least a 4 week delay before they will consider casting an eye over malfunctioning street lights which with trip hazards and the light switch off leaves residents wondering how long they have to wait in A & E or for a bed. Meanwhile they continue to turn a blind eye to dealing with residential developments that smash up pavements. Surely those engaged in building work should also foot the bill for ensuring that the pavement is repaired and safe especially from a health and safety angle for their workers. Cuetip
  • Score: 4

10:29am Fri 21 Mar 14

morganwilliam says...

garston tony wrote:
An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much.

But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash.

Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here!
Civil cases are found on 'the balance of probabilities' (is it more likely to have occurred than not) rather than the criminal standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt'.
[quote][p][bold]garston tony[/bold] wrote: An awful accident and a real shame it has impacted on Mr Curtiss's life so much. But am I right in thinking this award is made wholly on an assumption? That doesnt seem right. The assumption of guilt appears to be there was a pothole in the road and Mr Curtiss was known to be a careful cyclists. That doesnt mean something else other than a pot hole caused the accident, Mr Curtiss could have been distracted by something else, a fly could have flown into his eye or any number of other things that could cause even the most careful of cyclists to crash. Sorry, I know this sounds harsh but when the judge themselves say the actual cause of the accident is not know I cant see how this result can be correct. I thought there had to be no reasonable doubt which there certainly appears to be here![/p][/quote]Civil cases are found on 'the balance of probabilities' (is it more likely to have occurred than not) rather than the criminal standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt'. morganwilliam
  • Score: 0

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