A cyclist left paralysed after he was hit by a motorist with defective vision who should not have been driving has been awarded £4 million in damages to help pay for the round-the-clock care he will need for the rest of his life. Following the award at London’s High Court, his wife issued a plea for motorists to be more considerate of cyclists.
Patrice Gougam, aged 55, who worked as head coach at Enfield Tennis Club, spent three months in a coma and required a total of 21 months’ hospital treatment, including six months at the National Hospital for Neurosurgery and Neurology in Bloomsbury after the November 2009 incident on the Great North Road between Barnet and Potters Bar.
Even now, he needs a feeding tube in order to eat, and is confined to a wheelchair, reports the London Evening Standard.
As we reported here on road.cc in October 2010, the driver involved, pensioner Michael Elliott, now aged 66, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges including dangerous driving, driving with a medical condition, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to notify the DVLA of problems with his eyesight.
Elliott, who suffered from cataracts and glaucoma, claimed not to have seen the Mr Gougam prior to his Land Rover hitting him, and continued on his way to a photography club meeting, where he spent two hours before returning to the scene of the incident.
The judge presiding over the High Court decision praised Mr Gougam’s wife, Virginia, for her “extraordinary care, love and support for her husband, and her determination to do everything she could for his care and rehabilitation," as the award was entered against Elliott and his insurance company.
Afterwards, Mrs Gougam’s solicitors issued a statement which said: "She dearly wishes other motorists to be more aware and patient of cyclists on London's busy roads, so as to reduce the increasing number of tragic stories covering both fatalities and life-changing injuries sustained by cyclists."
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.