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Cyclist left in wheelchair after accident in line for seven-figure damages

EDF Energy tried to argue cyclist partly to blame - judge disagrees

A cyclist from Hertfordshire is set to receive a seven-figure sum in damages after winning a court case against a utility company and its contractors after he was hit by a lorry as he negotiated a pedestrian corridor through roadworks that failed to meet the minimum width required by law.

The accident, which happened in September 2006 in Park Street, St Albans, resulted in 27-year-old Alexander Kotula, a police officer from London Colney, facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

The utility company, EDF Energy Networks, and its contractors, Morrison Utility Services Ltd and Birch Utilities Ltd, had admitted that they had failed to maintain a one-metre pedestrian passage throughout the roadworks.

However, they claimed in London’s High Court that Mr Kotula had been cycling along the pedestrian corridor rather than walking with his bike, and that part of the blame for the accident therefore lay with him, either because he negligently cycled on the pavement and through the roadworks, or because he walked through the pedestrian passage carelessly.

Judge Simon Brown, presiding over the case, disagreed, saying that the three companies were responsible for the victim’s injuries.

“The defendants were wholly responsible for this accident in laying out a very hazardous multi-layered trap of a narrow path on a curve with kerb across it,” he said in his decision, delivered yesterday.

He added that he believed was more likely that Mr Kotula, who had suffered from post-traumatic amnesia, had got off his bike by the time of the accident, adding that only an “extraordinary skilled” cyclist would have been able to safely negotiate the narrow passage.

According to the Herts 24 website, Mr Kotula will receive an interim payment of £50,000 while the full quantum of damages, which are likely to run into millions of pounds, are assessed.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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andrew miners | 12 years ago

I havent seen agood utility firm yet they leave the roads/paths in a right state.!!!!!!!!!!!

OldRidgeback | 14 years ago

Hope the firms get nailed - they screwed up and someone has suffered badly as a result.

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