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Compensation awarded to widow of cyclist killed in collision with bin lorry reduced after jury concludes he was “58 percent responsible” for fatal crash

RAF veteran William Ronald’s wife was awarded over £1.3 million, but the payout has been reduced to reflect shared blame for his death

The widow of a cyclist who was killed in a collision with a bin lorry has been awarded over £550,000 in compensation for his death – after a jury concluded that the payout should be reduced by over half to reflect that her husband was partially responsible for causing the fatal crash.

William Ronald, a 46-year-old RAF veteran, was riding his bike near the village of Cleish, Kinross-shire, on 25 May 2018, when he was struck by the driver of a refuse truck belonging to Perth and Kinross Council.

He was trapped under the vehicle and, despite the efforts of medical staff, died at the scene.

> Family of cyclist killed in Edinburgh tram track crash win compensation

Katrina Ronald had taken legal action against the local authority because she believed it was liable for her husband’s death due to the actions of the lorry’s driver, and council employee, Jordan Paterson. She also sued on behalf of her 12-year-old daughter, who she says continues to struggle with grief and sleeps every night with her father’s ashes, which are stored in a teddy bear.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday, jurors concluded that that Katrina Ronald should receive £1,319,750 from the council, and that her daughter should be awarded £95,000. Two other members of the family were also awarded £67,500 each in damages.

However, the jury also concluded that Mr Ronald, who served in Afghanistan in the RAF, had acted negligently at the time of the fatal crash, and assessed that he was 58 percent responsible for the incident, with the bin lorry driver receiving 42 percent of the blame.

That decision means that Mrs Ronald’s compensation will be reduced by 58 percent, to just over £554,000.

> Cyclist hit by truck driver has compensation cut after judge says lack of helmet contributed to injuries

The court was told that the collision between the cyclist and the bin lorry took place on a blind bend on the road. According to investigators, Mr Ronald’s bike computer revealed that he had been travelling at 16mph in the moments leading up to the crash, and that he had been riding at 30mph on another part of the road.

The bin lorry, meanwhile, was travelling at 11mph in the moments before the collision.

In his closing speech to the jury, Perth and Kinross Council’s advocate, Ranald Macpherson, argued that Mr Paterson had been driving safely and appropriately at the time of the crash.

“The bicycle was going too fast,” he said. “Mr Paterson was driving at an appropriate speed. There was nothing more he could have done.

“This was a terrible accident which had tragic consequences. However, it was not an accident which was caused by Mr Paterson.”

“No, he’s not dead”

Earlier this week, Mrs Ronald told the court that, on the day of her husband’s death, she went to look for him after he failed to return home, suspecting that he had picked up a puncture during his ride.

She said she then saw an ambulance parked, and that the crew told her that their colleagues were dealing with a cyclist, before informing her that her husband was dead.

“When the police said he’s dead, I said ‘no, he’s not dead’. I started to argue with him – I said ‘no he cannot die’,” she told the court.

“I wanted to see him, but he said you can’t see him. He told me I couldn’t see him. I saw the bin lorry up the road.”

She also said that her husband was “crazy mental” about safety while cycling, and would lecture his daughter if she rode her bike without a helmet.

Mrs Ronald added that the police had told her that the bin lorry was travelling at around 20mph when its driver struck her husband.

She continued: “The police came to speak to me. They asked me the usual questions – ‘Was Willie suicidal?’ I said no.”

She described telling their then-seven-year-old daughter the news as the “worst thing I’ve ever had to do”.

> Cyclist who suffered “life-changing” injuries after hitting bike lane kerb sues council in multi-million euro claim

“No amount of money will ever bring back Mrs Ronald’s husband,” Robert Milligan KC, for Katrina Ronald, told the court this week.

“No sum of money will give her back another Christmas, another birthday, or a wedding anniversary. It won’t allow them to sit on the couch and watch TV together.

“But she was not given time to prepare for this. It came out of the blue. It came on a warm sunny May day.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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19 comments

Avatar
HoarseMann | 8 months ago
1 like

This is the collision report:
https://www.cyclestreets.net/collisions/reports/2018930000175/

It does appear to be at the bottom of a steep descent
(strava segment: https://www.strava.com/segments/7708923)

Looking at the details of the collision report, I think this is the view the cyclist would have had going into the left hand bend.

Awful collision.

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to HoarseMann | 8 months ago
6 likes

Just to add this is a signed cycle route. There are warning signs to expect cyclists along this road. Any driver regularly using this route should have known this and been driving at a speed they could easily stop should a cyclist be approaching.

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eburtthebike | 8 months ago
0 likes

I did find a report which identified the road:

"46-year-old William Ronald died as a result of his injuries following the crash on Nivingston Hill Road, Cleish."

Anyone know the road who would like to comment?  The fact that is named as a hill implies a slope where it would be easy and safe to travel at 30mph.

This confirms https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4209944

Avatar
belugabob | 8 months ago
0 likes

Not enough information to make a fair assessment of the situation.
No mention of whether either party was on the wrong side of the road or not, for example.
Modern journalism really is poor

Avatar
Hirsute | 8 months ago
2 likes

58% ?

How was that worked out ? 7/12 is a possible inference but again, where's the methodology ?

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Jitensha Oni replied to Hirsute | 8 months ago
2 likes

Only thing I can think of given the report is that that's not far off the percentage of the rider's speed for a head-on collision given the 16 mph and 11 mph speeds quoted. If so, a calculation based on kinetic energy might have been more appropriate.

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ktache replied to Jitensha Oni | 8 months ago
2 likes

But then the riders contribution would be down to a fraction of a percent.

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mattw | 8 months ago
1 like

I honestly did not know that in the UK juries made this kind of decision. Scotland is different once again.

Is there an Appeal process?

(Update: it seems that an Appeal can be made to the UK Supreme Court:
https://www.mygov.scot/civil-court-case )

Avatar
tigersnapper | 8 months ago
12 likes

I would question how a jury decides how 'blame' should be apportioned.  Surely a trained accident investigator should be doing this?

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Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
2 likes

I'm not too sure what to make of this story.  I am definately going to say that you would have had to be in the court in order to make sense of it.

Im also uncomfortable with the conclusions of fault in this case.  If both parties were travelling at speeds they (and the police) believed reasonable for the circumstances it sounds like a genuine accident to me.

I also presume that there was no criminal case in this instance for careless driving on the bin lorry driver.

This feels like a classic compensation culture case to me (based on the article facts) so whilst Im glad the family has some money coming in, I'd be fuming if it was my council. (again based on on the apparent facts)

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
3 likes

Like you, I'm pleased that the family have got something but I'm finding it hard to understand the rationale here. If two motorists are deemed equally to blame for a collision then neither gets anything from the other's insurance, I can't quite see why when Party A is deemed to be more at fault for a collision than Party B that Party B should be paying anything.

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Surreyrider replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
6 likes

This story is poorly written - probably because it was cut and pasted from another poorly written piece. It's impossible to understand the conclusions in the case because most of the facts and context seem to be missing. That said, at first glance it seems odd.

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lesterama | 8 months ago
12 likes

How the f*** does the speed he was travelling at on another part of the road have any bearing on the collision?

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ooblyboo replied to lesterama | 8 months ago
4 likes

I thought the same. Hard to know without specifics but he could have been descending a hill earlier, for example, in which case it would have been pretty reasonable to be doing 30mph. I raise my speed where I feel it is appropriate to do so - I wouldn't feel happy about being judged for that if something later happened where I was riding responsibly and at a much lower speed.

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Rendel Harris replied to lesterama | 8 months ago
5 likes

I suppose if the blind bend was at the foot of a hill and his head unit showed that he'd held 30mph to the last second then scrubbed off to 16 just before the collision it could be claimed that he was riding recklessly? Pure speculation though, there are a lot of questions in this case that the reports don't answer.

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lesterama replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
5 likes

Yes, sounds like a factoid designed to promote speculation in the minds of the jury. I am really sickened by this sort of thing.

30mph in fair conditions? Not even a hint of a problem. If I were defending a cyclist in a similar case I'd ask experts to compare and contrast the cyclist's and the lorry's momentum.

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Muddy Ford replied to lesterama | 8 months ago
13 likes

lesterama wrote:

How the f*** does the speed he was travelling at on another part of the road have any bearing on the collision?

And why wasn't the speed of the bin lorry on 'another part of the road' determined? They might also have been travelling at 30mph. The fact they mention the cyclist was doing 30mph is a pathetic attempt to suggest recklessness and support the partial blame. 

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Off the back replied to Muddy Ford | 8 months ago
4 likes

No mention of the gradient. 30mph on a steep downhill road wouod be decidedly average. But then it's how the statistics are cherry picked to prove an argument without looking further into why makes this so absurd 

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HoarseMann replied to lesterama | 8 months ago
0 likes

Yep, I think this is totally irrelevant. Doing 30mph on this straight downhill section of the road would be quite restrained:
https://goo.gl/maps/dcepxAnFAY1GekYh7

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