The wheels of justice, it’s said, turn slowly, a maxim starkly illustrated this week by the story of a cyclist left brain damaged after being struck by a car nearly a decade ago, whose compensation has only just been approved five years after his case was settled out of court.
Hamish McCullough, then aged 24 and a student at Oxford Brookes University, suffered severe brain damage after being clipped by the wing mirror of a Peugeot 205 being driven by an unsupervised learner driver at Kingston Lisle, near Wantage, Oxfordshire in July 2001.
The driver, Gordon Mitchell, of Lambourne, Berkshire, was jailed for two years in March 2002 for failing to stop after the accident and for perverting the course of justice. That sentence was halved on appeal in September 2002, when the Court of Appeal freed him.
After spending more than a year in hospital following the incident, Mr McCollough, now aged 34, now requires round-the-clock care from a team of medical staff.
Yesterday, the Oxford Mail reported that a High Court judge had approved a settlement between Mr McCullough’s lawyers and motor insurers under which he will receive a lump sum payment of £2.45 million.
Mr McCullough will also receive index-linked, tax-free payments of £120,000 a year for the rest of his life to meet the cost of medical care.
What’s not clear is why it has taken five years from settlement of the case to the quantum of damages being agreed.
In November 2005, the same newspaper reported that the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), the body that provides compensation to victims of uninsured drivers, had made an out of court settlement with Mr McCullough’s father, suing on his behalf, for 75% of the amount originally claimed.
That reduction was reportedly due to the MIB claiming that liability for the accident was in dispute, and because Mr McCullough wasn’t wearing a cycle helmet.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.