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        Informative Posts

        Will the superhighways make London safer for cyclists?

        Cycle superhighways are the new in vogue public construction project to deal with London’s congestion problem. The sprawling metropolis cannot fit anymore roads for cars whilst extensions to the underground network remain a costly and time consuming endeavour.

        Product Liability: Who can be claimed against? Part II

        This article will build on our discussion of product liability claims against the seller of a product. Sometimes, it will be necessary and sensible to bring actions against the manufacturer of a product.

        Product Liability: Who can be claimed against?

        A claim for loss occasioned by a faulty or defective product can be brought against either the seller or alternatively against the manufacturer of the product. Today we will be looking at bringing an action against the seller of a product.

        Hip Replacements And Medical Negligence

        A hip replacement is expected to last 10 years and fortunately over 95% of hip replacement operations meet this target. However, 1 in 10 procedures will suffer from some complications. The most common complications are dislocations, where the artificial joint is not properly fastened or ill fitting. Signs of dislocation are the hip feeling painful, loose or unstable.

        Bedsores & Medical Negligence

        When we think of the term “bedsores” it might seem like nothing all too severe - after all how bad can an injury be from lying in bed too long?

        Helmets - Should they be mandatory?

        Did you know there is no law in the UK that requires any cyclist to wear a helmet when cycling?

        This is a controversial topic as there are differing opinions as to whether wearing a helmet should be mandatory by law. There is research that shows that wearing a correctly fitted helmet can effectively prevent serious head injuries however there is contradictory research that shows that the despite wearing a helmet, this does not prevent the brain being damaged from hitting the skull.

        To ensure you are wearing a “correctly fitted helmet” it should meet British Standards (BS EN 1078:1997), is a snug fit and positioned squarely on your head. The helmet should sit just above your eyebrow and not tilt backwards or forwards and lastly, it should be secured with straps that only allow for two fingers to fit between your chin and the strap.

        It is vital that if your helmet is damaged in any accident that it is immediately replaced, this is because if it is damaged it may not protect you properly if you are in further collisions.

        Many oppositions of the helmet think that the major dangers that cyclists face on each journey must be reviewed as a priority. These include investing sufficient funds into cycling infrastructure and updating our laws to better protect vulnerable road users when they are injured in an accident.

        The statistics regarding injuries and the use of helmets makes for interesting reading, for example:

          74% of head injuries could have been prevented if the cyclist had worn a helmet.
          Austria saw a 15-20% drop in the number of hospital admissions for head injuries when they introduced a law requiring all cyclists to wear a helmet.

        However…

          Evidence suggests that drivers passed closer to cyclists who were wearing a helmet when overtaking than those cyclists who were not wearing the helmet as the driver sees them as a less vulnerable road user.
          Very few adults wear helmets in the Netherlands and the number of cyclists killed per travelled mile is the lowest in the world.

        Whether you are a regular commuter or Sunday-afternoon cruiser, our advice is, don’t take the unnecessary risk and wear a correctly fitted helmet.

        If you have sustained injury following an accident on your cycle, please do call us today on 020 3553 7121.


        Gemma Ball
        Paralegal

        Dutch Driving Laws, should they be adopted in the UK?

        Recently there have been increased debates over whether the UK should adopt Dutch driving laws, The Specter Partnership’s Gemma Ball looks at the statistics.

        The law in the Netherlands and Denmark applies a ‘strict liability’ principle which protects vulnerable road users from other more powerful road users. Following a road collision, this principle automatically places liability on the more powerful road user unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the vulnerable road user was at fault. This is one of the methods used to ensure cyclist’s safety in the Country. This is because as a vehicle would be held at fault for causing a collision with a cyclist and a cyclist would be held at fault for causing an accident with a pedestrian.

        This law of default liability may be the reason that in some parts of Holland, 50% of all journeys are made by bike as Dutch drivers take greater caution around cyclists and pedestrians. This is compared to only 24% of all rush hour commutes taken by bike in the UK and drivers rarely being convicted for road accidents involving cyclists. Astonishingly, in 2013 six cyclists were killed on the roads in London within a two week period.

        These statistics would suggest that a mutual respect has been developed between all road users which helps to establish the idea that the town, city or even country is a cycle-friendly place.

        The existing model applied of strict liability is widely supported by the Safer Streets Coalition, CTC and Roadpeace, however there are misconceptions as to what strict liability actually is and how this would apply under UK legislation.

        Firstly, it should be remembered that this principle only applies to civil liability and does not extend to criminal liability.

        Secondly, there are currently only four western European countries, namely the UK, Cyprus, Malta and Ireland, that do not apply the strict liability principles, and so although the figures above show a safer cycling environment in Holland, these figures are not representative of the whole of Europe. This would suggest that the significant cycling infrastructure that is in place across the Netherlands and Denmark plays a large part in maintaining the safe cycling environment.

        So, is the UK out of step with the rest of Western Europe? Should the civil laws be updated to reflect Lord Denning’s poignant speech in 1982? His speech stated that:

        “in the present state of motor traffic, I am persuaded that any civilised system of law should require, as a matter of principles, that the person who uses this dangerous instrument on the roads – dealing death and destruction all round – should be liable to make compensation to anyone who is killed or injured in consequence of the use of it. There should be liability without proof of fault. To require an injured person to prove fault results in the gravest injustice to many innocent persons who have not he wherewithal to prove it.”

        Gemma Ball
        Paralegal

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