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Levenes Solicitors To Pursue Compensation for Cyclist Dragged Under Petrol Tanker
Sunday 01 Jan 2012
James Moore, 40, said he still had nightmares and slept with the TV on to block out memories of the near-fatal collision on February 17 last year.
The journalist had been cycling home to Wood Green from a hospital appointment when he was struck by a left-turning tanker in Leytonstone. He arrived in court in a wheelchair and needed crutches to reach the witness box.
Prior to Mr Moore giving evidence, the court was shown CCTV footage from a nearby supermarket of the exact moment he was hit by the tanker and dragged under the vehicle.
He suffered multiple injuries including a broken left fibia and tibia, broken pelvis, collapsed lung and numerous broken ribs. He was in a medically-induced coma for three weeks and in hospital for three months.
A motorist who helped keep him conscious while he awaited medical help was given a bravery award.
Mr Moore, right, told Waltham Forest magistrates last Thursday: “I do remember quite clearly cycling along past the junction. Suddenly, without any warning I could see, the lorry turned on me."
“I remember screaming ‘Stop, stop’, I think, and I think I’m going to die. Then I can remember being under the lorry and in quite considerable pain.”
He added: “I’m reliving it now. It’s not pleasant. I wake up in the middle of the night. I generally have to sleep with the television on. An empty room in the dark is not good for me.”
A police road crash investigator, PC Clive Austin, told the court that driver Nigel Gummer, 54, of Hadleigh, Essex, would have had sight in his mirrors of Mr Moore approaching for at least 12 seconds as he waited at a red light, at the juction of Leytonstone High Road and Cathall Road.
Mr Moore had been riding on a cycle lane on the inside of queueing traffic and drew level with the tanker’s front axle virtually as it began pulling away. He tried to cycle straight on but was hit by the lorry - which had stopped in the advance cyclist’s “box” - as it turned.
PC Austin said the Highway Code made clear that Mr Moore had the right of way. “Had he [the driver] looked in his mirrors as Mr Moore cycled up, it’s very clear he would have been visible. He is utilising the cycle lane as is right and just.”
But under cross examination from Mr Gummer’s barrister Alexis Dite, PC Austin admitted: “It would have been a pertinent move, as a cyclist coming down the inside of a large goods vehicle, to show some level of caution.”
Prosecutor Iola Harris told the magistrates: “What Mr Moore does, in the Crown’s case, is in fact legitimate. He is using a cycle lane. He is perfectly entitled to ride straight on.”
Mr Gummer, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a HGV driver and a clean licence, was found not guilty of careless driving after insisting he had checked his mirrors before pulling away. The CCTV images showed he was indicating left as he waited at the lights.
Mr Moore is now pursuing a civil claim for compensation against the tanker company’s insurers. His lawyer Kevin O’Sullivan, of Levenes solicitors, said: “It’s a reflection of how vulnerable cyclists are.”
Mr Moore, associate business editor on The Independent, said afterwards that he was disappointed the prosecution failed to call two witnesses, including the man who helped him as he lay trapped under the tanker. “I think the whole legal process is weighted against the victim,” he said.
He called for lorries to be fitted with sensors to detect cyclists. “If it saves lives, and saves people being put in the same position as me, it’s a damn good thing.”
Story via Ross Lydall, London Evening Standard
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