York cyclist wins £7k damages from council after pothole fall
Court of Appeal judge says city council failed to inspec road at adequate intervals
A hairdresser from York has won more than £7,000 in damages nearly five years after a pothole caused her to crash her bike, leaving her jaw fractured in two places, following a long-running legal battle that ended up in the Court of Appeal in London.
Lauren Wilkinson was aged 17 in May 2006 when the accident took place, reports the York Press, and sued City of York Council as the relevant highway authority, alleging that it had been negligent on failing to maintain the road properly.
In 2009, Ms Wilkinson won her case at York County Court and was awarded £7,360 in damages due to the council failing to inspect the road regularly enough, although the district judge found that she was 50% to blame for the accident as a result of not keeping an adequate lookout.
The council appealed that decision, and the decision was overturned at Leeds Crown Court in February 2010, after which Miss Wilkinson took her case to the Court of Appeal, which ruled on the case yesterday.
Announcing the decision he had reached along with colleagues Lord Justice Chadwick and Lord Justice Wilson, Lord Justice Toulson stated that while the cyclist had recovered well from here injuries, she was traumatised at the time.
He added that when Miss Wilkinson and her boyfriend examined the pothole after her fall, they discovered that it had a depth of four centimetres and measured almost 30 centimetres across.
Allowing the cyclist’s appeal, Lord Justice Toulson said: “The obligation to maintain the highway is a fundamental obligation of very long standing.”
He added that the circuit judge had been incorrect to “interfere” with the district judge’s decision, which had been based on factual findings after considering the evidence.
That included finding that the City of York Council should have inspected Whitby Drive, where the accident took place, at intervals of six months at most, and possibly three months.
Lord Justice Toulson, allowing Miss Wilkinson’s claim for the £7,360 damages, added: “This was a road which served a broader population. The district judge was fully entitled to conclude that it was the sort of road for which an inspection once a year was inadequate.”
Away from its legal tribulations, City of York Council is asking residents for their feedback regarding sustainable travel, which Cycling City York and other organisations that work alongside it will use to inform decisions on future initiatives.
Graham Titchener, programme manager for Cycling City York, was quoted in the York Press as saying: “We’re looking to the future and thinking about how we can continue to promote and encourage sustainable travel, not just cycling.
“To do this, we want to find out about any improvements that people would like to see, or support they may need, to ensure that we continue to build on what has been achieved so far.”
The survey will be online at the City of York Council website from next Monday as well as at the Cycling City York website and hard copies will also be available from local libraries and learning centres ad council reception at The Guildhall.