Compensation to family of cyclist killed by truck at Bow cut because he jumped red light

Payout reduced even though truck also ran red ight

by John Stevenson   August 18, 2014  

Brian and Debbie Dorling

The compensation payout to the family of a cyclist killed at London's notorious Bow roundabout has been reduced because he rode through a red light — even though the lorry driver convicted of causing his death by careless driving also went through the light on red.

Brian Dorling was the first cyclist to die on a cycle superhighway when he was hit by a tipper truck driven by David Cox on October 24, 2011.

His widow Debbie Dorling described the reduction in damages as "cruel" amd hit out at the justice system for not treating the families of those killed on the roads as victims.

The Evening Standard's Ross Lydall reports that Mrs Dorling, has secured a High Court settlement from the lorry firm McArdle Group and QBE Insurance.

But the £210,000 payout was cut from £330,000 because Mr Dorling had ridden through a red light, even though the driver had done the same, and later pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Mrs Dorling, 54, from Hounslow, said: “It’s not a windfall. [Brian] died aged 58. He would have retired when he was 65. It’s the amount of money he would have earned had he been alive, plus £11,200 because he did odd jobs around the house.

“It’s been docked by £120,000. I should have had £330,000. Because [Brian] broke the law, the amount of money I got was cut.

“These damages are cruel... The family of somebody who is killed on the road are not [classed as] victims. If he had been murdered or stabbed or shot, I would have been a victim. In law, Brian was the victim.”

Mr Dorling was an experienced cyclist who commuted daily from his home in southwest London to the Olympic Park in the east of the capital, where he worked as a quantity surveyor.

At the inquest into the death of Mr Dorling, the coroner heard that both the cyclist and the driver went through the red light just after it changed. Martin Porter QC, representing the family at the inquest, suggested that Mr Dorling had jumped the light to get away from away from the lorry.

Coroner Mary Hassall recorded a narrative verdict and described the design of the cycle superhighway at Bow as "an accident waiting to happen".

Mrs Dorling said she had received no counselling from Victim Support but had been supported by the charity RoadPeace.

“Nobody cares about the trauma and suffering,” she said. “It’s been a very difficult journey, and the journey still hasn’t finished.”

Lorry driver David Cox was given a six month suspended sentence last year with 100 hours of community service and a two-year driving ban.

43 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

mikeprytherch wrote:
Its sad as this poor guy died, but I guess if he had not of run the red light he would still of been alive, so he did contribute and therefore there has to be a reduction, that's the way the law has to work I'm afraid.

You did read the article? What a poorly thought through comment. This tragic case would still have happened regardless of stopping for the red or not. The driver appears to have been fully intent on jumping the light. The only protection would have been a bunny hop onto the footpath. I find it totally offensive that the insurance company has obviously pushed for contributory negligence and the judge has been swayed by their influence.

Edit: and how many of us have made the decision to jump a light and breath a sigh of relief as a vehicle roars past. And even if the lorry was turning to the left, the driver still would have noticed a cyclist ahead of him before he even hit the lights. And also if the light had turned red as the lorry went through, there had been ample time to stop due to the amber.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1059 posts]
18th August 2014 - 16:23

23 Likes

giff77 wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:
Its sad as this poor guy died, but I guess if he had not of run the red light he would still of been alive, so he did contribute and therefore there has to be a reduction, that's the way the law has to work I'm afraid.

What a poorly thought through comment.

You expect a thought through comment from someone who has trouble distinguishing between "of" and "have"? Rolling Eyes

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
18th August 2014 - 16:27

26 Likes

If anyones interested, heres the Regulation 28: Prevention of Future Deaths report submitted by the coroner at the inquests of both Brian Dorling and Philippine Gerin-Ricard, Mary Hassell.

If you pay attention, you can read very clearly that she states she believes that Mr Dorling was lulled into a false sense of security, and misled into believing he had priority, by the shabby design of Bow Roundabout.

If Mr Dorling's widow is going to have a payout cut by over 30% then surely the HGV driver should be facing a custodial sentence for killing someone after jumping a red light?

Thats quite a clear case of death by dangerous driving.

That is before even discussing corporate manslaughter charges against (a not fit for purpose) TfL

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [553 posts]
18th August 2014 - 16:37

24 Likes

userfriendly wrote:
giff77 wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:
Its sad as this poor guy died, but I guess if he had not of run the red light he would still of been alive, so he did contribute and therefore there has to be a reduction, that's the way the law has to work I'm afraid.

What a poorly thought through comment.

You expect a thought through comment from someone who has trouble distinguishing between "of" and "have"? Rolling Eyes

Especially as they have no idea what Bow Roundabout is actually like:

http://youtu.be/CWbHw28AthQ
http://youtu.be/oT15kYXHxXI

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [553 posts]
18th August 2014 - 16:37

16 Likes

gazza_d wrote:
It'll have very little to do with the incident specifics, and everything with a stone cold callous immoral insurance company finding the slightest wriggle room to reduce it's liability. they have shareholders you know

of course they do. That's how the whole legal system works. And your lawyer is likewise attempting to gain the absolute maximum compensation they can for you. This is their legal duty. It's nowt to do with morality or being nice or nasty. That's just juvenile.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [658 posts]
18th August 2014 - 17:32

19 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:
@ AyBee @ mikeprytherch :

Man did thing that millions of UK citizens and visitors do every single day, without injury or impact on others, risking no-one but themselves, namely proceed through a red light - be it controlling vehicles or pedestrians. No licence required.

Someone in an HGV did the same in a multi-ton vehicle that requires a special licence to operate, and killed him.

You think that means his wife should be effectively punished by potentially suffering financial hardship, and the vehicle's insurers should be let off paying for the convicted actions of their customer.

...and this is not a 'payout'. It's his basic salary for the shortest-possible estimation of his working life. Your use of such a term makes it sound like a compo-culture cashgrab. His wife/daughter could well be reading this, FFS.

Take a long, hard look at yourselves.


Do you read what you write before submitting? It's a simple case of contributory negligence. Ever heard the phrase two wrongs don't make a right? The lorry did a wrong and killed a cyclist, the cyclist did a wrong and put himself in a position to be killed - therefore the cyclist, whilst getting a substantial payout, doesn't get a full payout because had he not run the red light to be there, the lorry wouldn't have killed him. It's fairly simple - I really feel for his wife and family in this case, the facts deduce that the cyclist contributed to his own death.

zanf wrote:
Especially as they have no idea what Bow Roundabout is actually like:

http://youtu.be/CWbHw28AthQ
http://youtu.be/oT15kYXHxXI


I'm staggered that you can categorically state that I know nothing about Bow Roundabout, that is superb knowledge you have there without knowing who I am....

posted by AyBee [78 posts]
18th August 2014 - 17:35

18 Likes

Bikebikebike wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:
Its sad as this poor guy died, but I guess if he had not of run the red light he would still of been alive, so he did contribute and therefore there has to be a reduction, that's the way the law has to work I'm afraid.

I guess if you had read the article or had not posted this stupid comment, then you wouldn't look like such a cunt.

I read the article and at no point it is contested that running the red light was a factor in his death.

In a court, that would not be enough, but here it seems like tacit admission that it was relevant, since if it wasn't - and contributory negligence was still awarded - that would be the first thing to complain about.

Moan about specifics by all means but the tone here seems to be alleging the principle of contributory negligence is wrong, because it worked out badly for them specifically. Sorry, but I disagree, and if that wasn't the intention then it was written poorly.

posted by nuclear coffee [164 posts]
18th August 2014 - 17:42

10 Likes

AyBee wrote:
the cyclist did a wrong and put himself in a position to be killed

Jesus wept, this attitude is just inhuman. Stop now please.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [528 posts]
18th August 2014 - 17:44

20 Likes

gazza_d wrote:
It'll have very little to do with the incident specifics, and everything with a stone cold callous immoral insurance company finding the slightest wriggle room to reduce it's liability. they have shareholders you know

Yes, they do. Expecting them to not be loyal to the wishes of those who give them money is a childish fantasy.

This is precisely why we construct elaborate legal frameworks - if all the relevant parties do their job, a fair outcome is achieved, despite many of those parties having an interest in an unfair outcome.

If the outcome was not fair, it is the fault of those supposed to keep the insurance co's lawyers in check. That is literally what they are given money for.

posted by nuclear coffee [164 posts]
18th August 2014 - 17:53

18 Likes

nuclear coffee wrote:
Bikebikebike wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:
Its sad as this poor guy died, but I guess if he had not of run the red light he would still of been alive, so he did contribute and therefore there has to be a reduction, that's the way the law has to work I'm afraid.

I guess if you had read the article or had not posted this stupid comment, then you wouldn't look like such a cunt.

I read the article and at no point it is contested that running the red light was a factor in his death.

Errr...

"Martin Porter QC, representing the family at the inquest, suggested that Mr Dorling had jumped the light to get away from away from the lorry."

I should think that suggesting his running the red light to avoid the lorry is contesting that running the red light was a factor in his death.

As I'm commenting again, I'd like to reiterate: mikeprytherch is a cunt.

posted by Bikebikebike [78 posts]
18th August 2014 - 18:01

23 Likes

Things Never To Raise At Cyclist Dinner Parties:

helmets
hi-viz
using dual carriageways for cycling events
obeying red lights at all costs
Strava
right to shout at other 'cyclists'
collective responsibility

and now, drumroll please...

Whether your family should suffer because someone else killed you in a place you shouldn't have been at that exact moment even though they were totally at fault.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [528 posts]
18th August 2014 - 18:22

21 Likes

This all confusing to me. I'm assuming the Cyclist and the lorry were on the same side of the road, going the same way? But its says the cyclist was cycling on the Cycle Superhighway which is the Blue Shell Grip lanes, yes? So ok, what was the lorry doing in the cycle highway? Red Light Jumping aside this really looks like a case of it would have happened regardless. Such a shame.

Das's picture

posted by Das [66 posts]
18th August 2014 - 18:52

10 Likes

The government desperately needs to place the HSE in charge of regulation of the haulage industry.
The levels of fines and actions against directors where accidents occur on or near building sites is orders of magnitudes higher than on our roads, for injuries with similar impacts - except that the injured in this case are passers by, not employees.

However, the HSE does step in from time to time, then, look at the levels of fines levied.

Unsecured excavator arm swings into the path of oncoming traffic, 5 killed £500,000 fine.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/25082.stm

Fork lift driver upsets load onto lorry driver, £240,000 fine.
For example: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2014/stonehaven-firm-fined-240000-after-driver-c...

Excavator driver drops load onto pedestrian - kills him, £3750 fine.
http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2008/coilon01008.htm

Compare these to typical fines for deaths of cyclists.

posted by alexb [50 posts]
18th August 2014 - 18:57

15 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:
AyBee wrote:
the cyclist did a wrong and put himself in a position to be killed

Jesus wept, this attitude is just inhuman. Stop now please.

Come on. You can't join a thread and starting arguing with people and telling them they're wrong, then describe them as 'inhuman' for stating facts about how the law works (whether you like said facts or not).

posted by dp24 [193 posts]
18th August 2014 - 18:58

14 Likes

Here's the description from LCC

"On the first day of the inquest, the court heard that both Brian Dorling and the lorry driven by Mr Cox crossed the stop line just after the lights had changed to red.

Mr Dorling was on the left side of the lane following the blue painted 'ghost' lane which continues around the outside of the roundabout across the mouth of the exit to the A12 going north.

The lorry, which had moved in from the outside lane was heading to make a left turn at the roundabout.

The driver could not seen Brian directly and might only have had a very short time to see him in his mirrors.

The driver failed to give way to the cyclist, turning across his path, hitting him and the bike with the front-left wheels of his lorry, causing grave injuries that led to his death."

A slower cyclist would have been in the same position as Brian Dorling if they had gone through on amber.

posted by ribena [142 posts]
18th August 2014 - 19:02

23 Likes

giff77 wrote:

Edit: and how many of us have made the decision to jump a light and breath a sigh of relief as a vehicle roars past. ..

I don't know the details of the accident and I don't pretend to.

But as for your comment : As far as I can remember, I have never made a decision to jump a light. Are you saying that it is frequently a good idea? If that is the case, are you also saying that there is never a downside - i.e a vehicle roaring past your front or rear wheel, or even t-boning you? I don't really understand your point.

posted by edster99 [186 posts]
18th August 2014 - 23:28

10 Likes

edster99 wrote:

But as for your comment : As far as I can remember, I have never made a decision to jump a light. Are you saying that it is frequently a good idea? If that is the case, are you also saying that there is never a downside - i.e a vehicle roaring past your front or rear wheel, or even t-boning you? I don't really understand your point.

Sometimes you have a situation where t-boning is not one of the things that can happen. It depends on timing of the lights, the road layout, and other factors. In such cases it may be actually safer to get going before the light turns green, or not stop if it just turned red.

This has nothing to do with impatience, or deliberately flaunting the rules for the heck of it, but with safety when faced with a system that is tailored for motorised traffic only and ignores the needs of cyclists (sometimes fatally).

The default position of following the rules is perfectly fine. But don't do it at the cost of safety.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
18th August 2014 - 23:45

11 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:
AyBee wrote:
the cyclist did a wrong and put himself in a position to be killed

Jesus wept, this attitude is just inhuman. Stop now please.

I normally agree with (and indeed enjoy) most of your posts KiwiMike but on this occasion I think you are being irrational and simply refusing to accept reality.

If it is the studied judgement of the coroner's court, having examined all of the available evidence, that the cyclist was in some part responsible for the incident ... then that's basically how it is, at least from the point of view of the law.

You can scream and holler and stamp your little feet as much as you like ... but it won't change the facts.

posted by Joeinpoole [274 posts]
19th August 2014 - 0:34

7 Likes

Yes this result does seem very cruel, but live by the sword die by the sword I am afraid. Red lights don't distinguish between cars, vans, buses, trucks, taxis or cyclists. In fact road users should be stopping or attempting to stop on amber as per the Highway Code then you never run the risk of RLJing.

Very sad for the Dorling family but it cannot be ignored that Mr Dorling may have contributed to his death in the eyes of the law so damages reduced accordingly. Just remember this all you RLJers the same legal result will happen if you are killed in similar circumstances whilst RLJing, that you or your Estate will receive reduced damages. It can't be any other way. If you want to receive max damages or you want your family in the event of your death to receive a maximum payout then you shouldn't break the law. Simples, but very sad in this instance. Had Mr Dorling stopped for the red light or attempted to stop at amber then he may probably still been killed but in law he would not have been held contributory negligent with respect to the civil action for damages in the case brought by his Executors, his wife. Heart breakingly sad but the right result has been reached.

As for the driver he has been prosecuted and convicted under criminal law and maybe his punishment should have been a lot more severe which always seems to be an issue in cases where cyclists are killed or seriously injured.

But please don't RLJ. The traffic signals are in place for everyones' safety. Then hopefully terrible collisions like this won't happen.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [363 posts]
19th August 2014 - 6:21

12 Likes

Fair enough. He has to bear some of the responsibility. The unfortunate thing is that it is claimed he was an 'experienced' cyclist. If RLJ is what experience teaches one, then gawd help the inexperienced...

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

jmaccelari's picture

posted by jmaccelari [156 posts]
19th August 2014 - 6:44

11 Likes

Awful situation all round. Stop at red lights, no matter who you are.

posted by Beaufort [176 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:35

3 Likes

Whilst I acknowledge the 'letter of the law' interpretation half the posts use to justify a lower amount being paid to the victim's widow, I maintain that it is a totally uncompassionate, almost reptilian view of the world. Punishments are there to send deterrent messages to the perpetrator and the rest of us. So what sort of message is this decision supposed to send? Does it act as a deterrent? Who in their right mind is going to think, in the heat of the moment:

'Ooh, best I don't proceed through that light even though I can see it's totally clear and there's a massive HGV up my arse, because if it also breaks the law - twice - and I'm crushed to pulp under its wheels, my missus will lose out financially'?

Come on people. The law, in this regard, is a total ass. Do you seriously think someone will change their cycling behaviour because in the event of their death at the hands of another their relations will be a bit worse off?

Just about *any* situation where someone dies accidentally could be viewed as them being culpable in some manner or another. To effectively reward an insurance company for this does no-one any service whatsoever, and punishes someone who has no way to change their subsequent behaviour to be a better citizen.

What's next? NHS treatment witheld because when you broke your arm/leg/back misjudging a traffic regulation?

...and that's another thing: how do we KNOW the victim willingly ran the red? I freely admit a few times in my 25+ years of collision-free driving I have totally fucked up and ran reds or turned down one-way streets unknowingly. Fortunately other road users have been either absent or accommodating. The modern traffic environment can be a total sensory overload, and when you reach sensory input overload at 20-30MPH genuine mistakes happen, in a car or on a bike. By the time you figure out you are wrong it's too late (a great argument for 20MPH zones, that - the consequences of inevitable mistakes shouldn't be an 80% chance of death for non-drivers)

I wonder if this thread might be cited in future cases as evidence the 'cycling community' sides with the insurers of law-breaking HGV operators that you are fair game if you happen to be ignoring traffic regulations at the time...

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [528 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:38

9 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:
Punishments are there to send deterrent messages to the perpetrator and the rest of us. So what sort of message is this decision supposed to send? Does it act as a deterrent? Who in their right mind is going to think, in the heat of the moment:

Punishment is the domain of the criminal law. This is a civil law matter.

KiwiMike wrote:
I wonder if this thread might be cited in future cases as evidence the 'cycling community' sides with the insurers of law-breaking HGV operators that you are fair game if you happen to be ignoring traffic regulations at the time...

Puerile.

posted by dp24 [193 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:51

6 Likes

Over 40 years of cycling and I've never yet seen a case where jumping a red light was safer than not doing so. And in spite of many attempts by others to give real examples of where jumping the red light was safer I've yer to see one that actually works.

In this sad case the real injustice was the derisory charges made and penalty given against the driver.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [231 posts]
19th August 2014 - 9:27

8 Likes

userfriendly wrote:
edster99 wrote:

But as for your comment : As far as I can remember, I have never made a decision to jump a light. Are you saying that it is frequently a good idea? If that is the case, are you also saying that there is never a downside - i.e a vehicle roaring past your front or rear wheel, or even t-boning you? I don't really understand your point.

Sometimes you have a situation where t-boning is not one of the things that can happen. It depends on timing of the lights, the road layout, and other factors. In such cases it may be actually safer to get going before the light turns green, or not stop if it just turned red.

This has nothing to do with impatience, or deliberately flaunting the rules for the heck of it, but with safety when faced with a system that is tailored for motorised traffic only and ignores the needs of cyclists (sometimes fatally).

The default position of following the rules is perfectly fine. But don't do it at the cost of safety.

Well, i'll take your word for that and I can kind of see the argument on an individual basis if you think something is coming up behind you and isn't going to stop - but that is for getting out of the way (if possible), not for going across a junction. I can't see it for starting off on a red light before it goes green - you don't know how soon its going to change.

My concern is that at a population level, this contributes to the normalising the jumping of red lights. I'm not putting the blame for that solely at the feet of cyclists,BTW. The long term effect is my concern, in the sense that the more that people do it, the more everyone else (cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, etc) will think it is OK, without taking into account the circumstances, even when it is justified. People doing it when it is not justified, which we've all seen, still has the same effect of 'normalising' the act of ignoring traffic signals. Considering the quality of driving (and some riding) we already see, that's the last thing we need. I guess it comes back to infrastructure nudging people into making bad choices.

posted by edster99 [186 posts]
19th August 2014 - 9:54

5 Likes

shay cycles wrote:
Over 40 years of cycling and I've never yet seen a case where jumping a red light was safer than not doing so. And in spite of many attempts by others to give real examples of where jumping the red light was safer I've yer to see one that actually works.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.458585,-2.202947,3a,75y,20.14h,79.5t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1slxg5M9YF9ana9NOZdnCfYA!2e0

Riding up to this junction, I moved in to the right hand lane to go over on to Kirmanshulme lane.

As the lights changed to amber and I heard a vehicle behind me accelerate, I looked over my shoulder and saw a pick up truck screaming towards me, the driver with his head turned to the right to watch the traffic about to set off northbound up the A6.

I realised that there was no way he was stopping and sprinted though the ASL, and therefore the lights, and swung in to the left as the pickup flew through the red lights where I would have been stopped, still only just missing me by a tiny distance. It was a lot of luck that my response was adrenalin filled flight rather than freezing on the spot.

Potentially, I could have been killed by being hit after the lights, do you genuinely believe that my family should be punished because I tried to take evasive action rather than just stopping, accepting my death and allowing one of these to smash in to me at a speed in excess of 40 mph?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Nissan_Navara_front_2...

posted by farrell [1508 posts]
19th August 2014 - 10:04

7 Likes

Please bear in mind that Debbie Dorling has made posts on the Road CC website. A degree of sensitivity should be used with regard to any comments.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2232 posts]
19th August 2014 - 10:22

10 Likes

shay cycles wrote:
Over 40 years of cycling and I've never yet seen a case where jumping a red light was safer than not doing so. And in spite of many attempts by others to give real examples of where jumping the red light was safer I've yer to see one that actually works.

In this sad case the real injustice was the derisory charges made and penalty given against the driver.

How about: absolutely any example where a car behind you is not going to stop. Certainly sounds safer to me.

Or any example where you are waiting and a car, or worse lorry, pulls up to your right. Sorry but I that case I'd absolutely take my chances.

Not to mention the false equivalence: surely in order for RLJing to be acceptable, it only needs demonstrate a lack of extra danger.

It's very fashionable to say "don't RLJ because it's illegal", and if your aim is to counter claims from motorists that we're all scofflaws fair enough.

At the same time, I must admit there seems precious little evidence that doing so actually causes a problem. Doesn't the city of Paris now allow it for right turns?

posted by nuclear coffee [164 posts]
19th August 2014 - 10:43

4 Likes

shay cycles wrote:
Over 40 years of cycling and I've never yet seen a case where jumping a red light was safer than not doing so. And in spite of many attempts by others to give real examples of where jumping the red light was safer I've yer to see one that actually works.

In this sad case the real injustice was the derisory charges made and penalty given against the driver.

I commend your ability to cycle whilst being blind and deaf. More power to you, sir.

posted by Bikebikebike [78 posts]
19th August 2014 - 13:28

3 Likes

I don't really understand this case. And given how tragic the results are (the article specifically refers to the grief in the aftermath) I feel a bit uneasy about abstractly discussing it.

But essentially I don't understand what causal role the red light played in the event. Why could the same thing not have happened if both had gone through a few seconds earlier?

Edit - also, if they went through 'just after the light went red' then it sounds like the very common (almost universal) situation of a vehicle accelerating on an amber to try and beat the red and failing to do so. That's almost normal behaviour now, few drivers stop when a green goes to amber. Motorists do it far more than cyclists because they are more confident of having the speed to beat the red, but even cyclists do it occasionally, especially if all the cars around them show no sign of stopping.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [690 posts]
20th August 2014 - 17:40

1 Like