Driver who shattered cyclist's arm fined £90… woman who dropped cigarette fined £175

Injured cyclist highlights sentencing disparity

by Simon_MacMichael   July 15, 2010  

Gavel

A cyclist who suffered a shattered arm when he was hit by a car, requiring him to undergo five hours of surgery, has criticised the apparent leniency of the driver’s sentence and highlighted the disparity between the punishment handed out to the driver and that given for more trivial offences that don’t involve bodily injury.

Stewart Smith, aged 42, was struck by a car in January on the Brook Hill roundabout close to Sheffield University, and has been unable to work as a result of the injuries he received after being hit, with his humerus broken during the collision, which was seen by two police officers, according to The Star.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court fined the driver, a Mr Szewczyk, £90 plus a £15 victim surcharge and ordered him to pay £35 costs after his conviction for driving without due care and attention, and also put a four-point penalty on his driving licence.

Mr Smith, a member of Thurcroft Cycling Club, needed surgery to put his arm back together, including two plates, 15 screws and wire being inserted, and has been unable to return to his work in a children’s residential home.

However, his own research has unearthed the case of a woman who appeared in Chesterfield after dropping a cigarette end in the street who was fined £175, £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, and he now plans to take legal action as a result of the perceived leniency of the sentence handed out in his own case.

"I want to bring to people's attention, yet another case of inconsistency and failure of the British justice system,” Mr Smith explained to The Star.

Highlighting the case of the woman in Chesterfield, he said: "I think it beggars belief in the whole justice system that someone who has caused such injury gets a lesser sentence than someone who drops a tab end."

He continued: "The surgeon told me that the bone was so badly smashed, some of it had turned to dust. I am unable to work as the bone has still not fused together and I have been informed that I will lose some of the movement in my arm and I may even be left with a permanent disability.”

Mr Smith added: "I feel the sentence was extremely lenient and offers no deterrent to drivers to change their driving habits,” saying, “The injury I sustained will affect the rest of my life."

The newspaper said that a court spokeswoman had told it that the fine given to Szewczyk would have been finalized taking into account the driver’s circumstances and the specific details of the incident.

The Star also spoke to Solicitor Nicola Meese, who specialises in road traffic accidents at the firm Irwin Mitchell, who said: "Cycling is a great way to keep fit as well as help the environment by cutting the use of cars for smaller journeys.”

She continued: "But there are still dangers on the roads for cyclists and we see many accidents often resulting in very serious injuries as a result of other road users not doing simple things that can avoid accidents.

"Those in cars and on motorcycles need to make sure they remember the basics from their tests, such as checking mirrors and giving cyclists enough space.

Ms Meese concluded: "Cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users in a collision and we need to make sure they are well protected by drivers of other vehicles."

Speaking about the case to road.cc CTC Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen said:

"While CTC does not know all the facts in this case, it seems that 4 points on the driver license and a small fine doesn’t reflect the severity of the damage done to Stewart Smith’s health. Such a lenient punishment does not send out the message to other motorists that they need to watch out for cyclists.

The case also demonstrates why it is so important for cyclists who are injured by motor vehicles to let CTC know about it, by reporting it to www.Stop-SMIDSY.org.uk. Not only to we want to be able to fight for justice in cases like this, but also to be able to demonstrate the systematic failures of the police, prosecutors and the courts to treat pedestrians’ and cyclists’ injuries and deaths as seriously as they deserve. However we can only do this if we hear from the cyclists or their families facing these situations - we are powerless to act on media reports alone.”

11 user comments

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Truly shocking.

One of the instructors that I manage got hit from behind while she was riding to a school to train some children. She was turning left off a roundabout, she was in primary position and a car drove straight into the back of her. Smashed her bike up and more seriously she very badly broke her arm. She was knocked unconcious (her helmet was smashed to pieces) and she slid accross the road.

The police said "we can not work out whose fault it was so we cannot prosecute"

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1080 posts]
15th July 2010 - 15:37

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It's obvious, the motorist is always at fault!

Andy

posted by jazzdude [59 posts]
15th July 2010 - 16:03

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I thought a shunting accident was always the fault of the rear driver, at least in insurance terms? Wikipedia think so to (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rear-end_collision). What is wrong with this stupid country!!!

posted by emla [4 posts]
15th July 2010 - 16:04

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Interesting, but these are criminal penalties. The fag butt dropper cannot make a civil claim, whereas the cyclist could (presumably) sue the car driver for damages which are based on things including loss of mobility and job etc. I vote that the cyclist sues the driver - he could use BlameDirect or whatever they are called, or the CTC's solicitors.

posted by SimpleSimon [110 posts]
15th July 2010 - 16:41

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Oof, seems harsh Sad

I came a cropper when someone t-boned me a couple of years back, when he pulled out of a side road into me. He wrecked my pannier, cracked my frame, damaged my winter leggings and tore my waterproof - luckily I got away with only a little grazing. He gave me his "address" and I took his reg number.

Called my insurance company to claim to find I'd not "named" the bike on my policy so they wouldn't pay out for a new one or chase costs from him. Decided instead to pursue him directly through the police. Called them to register the RTA but was dismissed by the call handler because "as the driver gave you his details voluntarily so we don't need to know about it". Of course letters accompanied by bills for my replacement gear went unanswered Sad

posted by Rhythm [8 posts]
15th July 2010 - 20:08

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Yep, in a rear end shunt the person at the back is at fault. Maybe the cops don't know this Jon. I hope the guy with the smashed arm pursues a civil case against the driver. I think he'd have a good chance. If he won a case the driver's insurance costs would also skyrocket and hitting someone in the pocket is often the best way for them to learn.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2165 posts]
15th July 2010 - 21:11

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As a cyclist and a personal injury lawyer I'd say this man will have no problems with a civil claim. How much it deters the driver I can't say.

Timbo13's picture

posted by Timbo13 [272 posts]
15th July 2010 - 21:22

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@Timbo13 - will the cyclist be able to recover financially from the womans car insurance?

E.g. Whiplashed drivers claiming off the other driver for hitting them? I don't see any difference and he may be out of pocket for life if he can't wrk not to mention loss of a limb.

Feel sorry for the cyclist-its pretty ***** (sorry mod) what happened and the driver made an unintentional mistake.

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
16th July 2010 - 0:49

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@Fish_n_Chips

The car driver's motor insurance policy covers all claims made against the driver in respect of road traffic accidents, whether by pedestrians, cyclists, horseriders or other motorists. Even if the insurers refused to deal due to a policy issue, the Motor Insurers Bureau would stand in the insurer's shoes and pay up to a successful Claimant.

Timbo13's picture

posted by Timbo13 [272 posts]
16th July 2010 - 6:29

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Un-believable - it is a little worry and makes you think! I was hit yesterday by a van who decided to turn left across me and pushed me into the curb. I banged on the side of the van but he ignored me, I chased him down to confront him. He looked at me rather beligerently and said "didn't see you" not even a sorry. Luckily for me as I continued home I saw a copper and stopped him. Gave him all the details and he assured me he would find the driver and give him a stiff talking to - I think he could see how shook up I was because I was close to tears. Luckily he just pushed me out of the way but it could have been a lot worse. My heart goes out to someone who can't find anyone to fight their corner when they are obviously in the right.

Rode the E'Tape Caledonia - first sportiv ever and thoroughly enjoyed it

badbunny's picture

posted by badbunny [71 posts]
16th July 2010 - 15:24

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Rhythm wrote:

Called my insurance company to claim to find I'd not "named" the bike on my policy so they wouldn't pay out for a new one or chase costs from him. (

Crikey. Not good news. I wonder about the details of insurance. Can anyone suggest the best way of insuring the bike and yourself for UK and overseas?

My bikes are specified on the 'all risks' part of my home insurance for general usage excepting competition and I have holiday insurance and life insurance for injury and loss of earnings on trips abroad but I wonder whether there is something else? For coverage in accidents with other road users? Through the BC perhaps?

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1052 posts]
16th January 2012 - 18:51

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