Insurers of driver who badly injured Paralympic cycling champion Simon Richardson refuse to pay for operation

Beijing gold medallist may be forced to sell house to fulfill aim of competing at Rio in four years' time

by Simon_MacMichael   September 24, 2012  

Simon Richardson (Castle Combe TT)

Simon Richardson, winner of two Paralympic cycling gold medals in Beijing whose dream of defending his titles in London this summer ended when he suffered serious injuries after being hit by van driver Edward Adams, has said that he needs to raise £36,000 to pay for an operation after the motorist’s insurance company refused to foot the bill.

Last month, Adams, a farmer was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for dangerous driving, with three months added for failure to stop at the scene of the incident, which happened near Bridgend in August 2011. He was also given a three-month concurrent sentence for driving with excess alcohol.


Richardson's bike was broken into three parts by the impact

Richardson suffered multiple injuries including fractures of the spine and a broken pelvis and breast bone, and following Adams’ sentencing last month said: "I have some significant health issues to still overcome following the collision, including further back surgery and long term recovery where my complete effort must be.

"I fully intend to battle my way back to elite competitive sport when I am fully recuperated.”

However, his hopes of getting fit again to start training for Rio 2016 have been dealt a blow by this morning’s news, revealed by Richardson on Twitter, that Adams’ insurance company would not be paying for his treatment.

“All I want to say is thank you to all my friends and followers,” Richardson told road.cc.

“We are not giving up, we are taking the insurance company to court to try and get money for the operation and Leigh Day [his solicitors] will fight it all the way.”

Although Richardson could potentially have the operation done on the NHS, that would mean him remaining in pain for at least a year before the surgery could be carried out, and would be unlikely to give him enough time to complete his rehabilitation in time to get training for the next Paralympics.

“I cannot wait for the NHS,” he said, although he added that he appreciated it was not their fault.

If the action against Adams’ insurers is unsuccessful, he says that he may have to take the extreme measure of selling his house to raise the £36,000 needed for the operation.

“Otherwise, forget Rio,” he added.

43 user comments

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I can see a detail which could be causing this problem. Because the driver was DUI his insurer will say that the policy is void, and paying out could set a precedent for giving cover to any idiot who drives without insurance through voiding their contract with their insurer.

The compensation should thus be sought from the MIB (the source of payments for those injuries and losses through crashes with uninsured drivers) This would balance the value of 2 years of pain and loss of the ability to train back to fitness, against the cost of paying for the operation now.

The figure of £36,000 seems about right for this, if not a little low?

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [421 posts]
24th September 2012 - 15:53

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This is another insulting travesty of justice for victims common in the UK as insurance companies spend their cash exploring every squalid trick to avoid doing right for the victims of incidents like this rather than using it to put things right.

Lets hope that the insurers are named so we can take our business elsewhere .

Sudor

posted by Sudor [161 posts]
24th September 2012 - 15:55

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Hold on. If you get run over by a drunk, their insurance is invalid and you're screwed. Is that really right?

posted by BigDummy [261 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:16

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Although I agree that this is just insult on top of injury.
I can see what A V Lowe is on about.
If you are drunk at the time of accident, that usually breaks your agreement with the insures.
And, as London Calling says, it's the drivers fault, so sue him instead.

posted by Travis [9 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:24

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Trouble being, we make people have insurance to cover this stuff ebcause the majority of people don't have £36,000.

posted by BigDummy [261 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:35

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Make the drunk farmer sell his house/ farm to pay for it.

posted by Some Fella [604 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:41

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nowasps wrote:
Somebody must know who the insurers are. Or is there a reason they cannot be identified?

A couple of people on Twitter have asked Simon Richardson who the insurers are. He replied that he was not in a position to identify them himself, but added that they insure a lot of farmers which certainly narrows it down.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7398 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:54

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Even if the policy had a clause that excluded cover in the result of a DUI, the Insurer cannot escape their liability to any third party. They will have to deal with the claim (it is their obligation under the RTA to do so) and look to make a recovery of the costs against their policyholder - although the potential in this would suggest that a successful recovery is going to be unlikely.

Would probably be fair to assess all the medical evidence available before they are pronounced scumbags or named and shamed though....
Thinking

posted by Waggo [2 posts]
24th September 2012 - 17:22

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So going on what's above, let's see if I have this right: You are covered by your insurance for whatever activities it is taken against. If you invalidate that insurance then the contract is void and you have to foot the bill. In that case the farmer should be approached for the money.

posted by kitkat [179 posts]
24th September 2012 - 18:41

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If Richardson is suffering and clearly requires major surgery, why does it take a year to get it scheduled on the NHS? Maybe I'm being naive, but what has more than a trillion quid on the NHS in the last couple of decades got us if it hasn't been quicker treatment? Machines that go ping and lots of administrators? Ah, think I've answered my own question.

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posted by dullard [140 posts]
24th September 2012 - 19:06

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Surely the farmer has some assets that Mr. Richardson or the insurer can go after?

posted by jackh [104 posts]
24th September 2012 - 19:29

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If it is the same in UK as over here in Ireland then a DUI driver's insurance will not pay out - that's when the (equivalent) MIB pay out. But if it is like here...it can be up to 2 years before that money will be seen...so it's a catch 22 situation. I'm guessing if he pursued the driver...he'd probably get nowhere either...
Not a very nice situation for anyone to be in.
It begs the question, what good is insurance (in quite a lot of cases)???

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

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posted by The _Kaner [304 posts]
24th September 2012 - 19:37

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Leigh Day are good. They'll sort the carter-fuckers out!

posted by Animal [33 posts]
24th September 2012 - 20:53

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Think farmer for insurance company Wink

posted by davemhart [37 posts]
24th September 2012 - 21:24

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Whats the point in having the blooming insurance if they arent going to cover this!...they need to be NAMED!

posted by NeilXDavis [93 posts]
24th September 2012 - 21:45

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Take away the emotive aspect and unfortunately it's only an insurance company's lawyers doing what lawyers are paid large sums of money to do. Simon is just one of many who suffer as a result of a collision and do not every get treated fairly.

The farmer won't have any money. They never do, it's a fundamental practice they are taught from a very young age - put it back into the business so the evil taxman doesn't get it (yet who pays for roads, electricity, mains sewage etc to their remote properties, for village schools etc). Which is why they have such low net income levels yet have massive sheds full of tractors, trailers, combines, diggers, quads etc. And why they wait for the threatening court letter before reluctantly paying bills and reply to official letters with illegible, spidery handwriting on a piece of old scrap paper in an old envelope resealed with sellotape and, to cap it all, insufficient postage. And no, I'm not exaggerating.

@dullard it's not just pings and pen-pushers and our modern lifestyles but drugs that are sucking huge amounts of money out of the NHS. It is screwed royally by pharmaceutical companies.

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posted by Simon E [1748 posts]
24th September 2012 - 22:00

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Think I know who the insurer is but I shall get it confirmed tomorrow then cancel all my policies. Which will be a shame as I've been with them for quite sometime.

posted by Marin no 8 [1 posts]
24th September 2012 - 22:53

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This case just unfortunately reminds me that us cyclists always come off worst in a collision, even if we have the best legal representation. It really is quite depressing. The insurance company should be financially penalised by the courts for refusing to pay for the operation. I can't think of any other legal situation where this wouldn't be the case?

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
25th September 2012 - 1:05

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The _Kaner wrote:
If it is the same in UK as over here in Ireland then a DUI driver's insurance will not pay out - that's when the (equivalent) MIB pay out.

Motor Insurers' Bureau is only brought in if the driver has no insurance or the driver cannot be traced. I think what some people are talking about is some companies have tried to remove cover from the insured driver if they DUI.

As @Waggo pointed out, insurance companies cannot remove their responsibility for insurance against a third party - that is the minimum legal requirement for driving in the UK.

This seems just like normal insurance company tactics to delay paying out, especially as the sum is likely to be quite high. I don't think we need to wait for any medical reports as to calling the insurance company names, it is very clear what injuries have been suffered and the driver was convicted. Conviction isn't a requirement to bring a claim for compensation but it certainly helps.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

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posted by ragtag [137 posts]
25th September 2012 - 10:06

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Just what I was about to say Ragtag. Years ago I was involved in a hit and run. We got the registration and when the police called at his door he had a skinful. Also had a witness who saw him stagger from the pub and into the car and followed him until he hit me and took off. The insurers paid up.

In this case they are banking that the alternative is 'free' as it is a procedure provided by the NHS. What goes in Simon's favour is he is a professional athlete and needs this treatment now rather than later to allow him to be pain free and ultimately compete again.

But why stop at 'voiding' your policy for DUI. Why not void it for speeding, rlj, use of phone etc. All those things that contribute to collisions? Insurance is primarily to protect the third party, not to make it easier for the individual to repair their vehicle.

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posted by giff77 [941 posts]
25th September 2012 - 11:02

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I wonder, does Simon Richardson earn a living from cycling at all?
If so can't it be argued that if he is going to be unable to race at the next games he's going to loose 4 years or more of earnings when all his sponsors give up?

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posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
25th September 2012 - 12:47

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Marin no 8 wrote:
Think I know who the insurer is but I shall get it confirmed tomorrow then cancel all my policies. Which will be a shame as I've been with them for quite sometime.

And you think you can find a 'clean', honest, ethical and upright insurance company to sign up with?

Ha ha, dream on!

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1748 posts]
25th September 2012 - 13:46

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Name and shame this Isurance Provider who-ever they are.

posted by Mostyn [387 posts]
26th September 2012 - 14:32

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As a farmer, there is a very high chance that his insurers are the NFU Mutual...in my experience not known for their (voluntary) generosity.

Of course it may not be them but they do insure a substantial proportion of the farmers in the UK.

posted by DAG on a bike [44 posts]
26th September 2012 - 19:35

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Edward Adams should be forced to sell his home to pay for the operation as he was the idiot that caused Simon's injuries.
Then he can argue with his insurers!!!

posted by Depth Charge [17 posts]
26th September 2012 - 19:42

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I'm disgusted by this, but it's made me think of something that perhaps we should all be thinking of when we're out on the bike...

Had we better have pur own insurance?? Not something i've really considered before, but the thought of being left high and dry by some drunk and his neglegent insurance company is frankly a bit scary!!

Not saying it's right that we should have to, but i guess this is the next step from thinking a helmet is required!!

posted by mr_leemur [23 posts]
26th September 2012 - 20:37

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My experience of Leigh Day is that they are excellent. I was dealing with a taxi insurer that was refusing to settle. They claimed that he had a pregnant passenger (I never saw her) and that he'd driven off to drop her at the hospital. When asked to name the passenger, they settled! (with the name of the passenger I could have found out the name of the child via the registrar and traced the witness, if there ever was one).

Leigh Day are British Cycling's insurer and if you aren't a British Cycling member - why not? It's worth it just for the insurance alone.

I presume that Simon is being advised not to name them so as not to prejudice any out of court settlement. However, once proceedings are issued it's no longer a private matter (pedants will say that until it's listed for a hearing it's not public however you've already involved court staff before that point)

If you think this is bad, I understand that the compensation from the MIB for a fatality caused by someone uninsured is £7,000. On the roads life is cheap.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [274 posts]
26th September 2012 - 22:57

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It's a crappy situation but I don't think all the vitriol aimed at the insurer is justified. The drunk farmer is the cause of all this, it won't happen but it would be nice if all his assets were sold to foot any bills (if he has any, Welsh farmers are generally rich...). As has been speculated above I'm guessing the insurer is refusing to pay out on the grounds the NHS will cover it eventually, whilst that sucks if they did pay out for private healthcare when a free option was available then it's sets a precedent and everyone's premiums will end up rising. They could make a goodwill payment to but then so could all the people ranting about injustice here.

posted by fuzzywuzzy [58 posts]
27th September 2012 - 7:47

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Maybe I've missed something, but if he's going to be in pain and discomfort for a year if he chooses the NHS option, that deserves compensation? I'm not normally in favour of ambulance-chasers, but if the insurers are refusing to pay for the treatment because the alternative is free under the NHS, surely they're liable for the extra pain and inconvenience poor old Simon will suffer?

posted by Pierre [79 posts]
28th September 2012 - 10:19

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This sort of thing is happening day in, day out across the UK. It is utterly despicable and this particular example is strong reason to support new legislation to permanently revoke driving privilege (that's right, driving is not actually a right!) where someone proves themselves to be wholly irresponsible behind the wheel. Seriously, hitting is bad enough but then driving off? Automatic life ban not a smack on the wrist and that's not even taking into account he was a drunk.

Would I for example be re-issued a firearms licence if I took my gun out and walked the streets pointing it at people and firing it in the air...not even actually hurting anyone? I would hope not, the local Chief Constable would lose their job for being so reckless. Why then does such common sense not apply to our roads?

I would take this to government directly and demand, with the help of many supporters out there who are fed up of reading about yet another motorist 'accidentally' ruining someone else's life, that something is done immediately.

It is not good enough for the victim to be left exposed whilst the insurers, the driver, the courts, DVLA and anyone else involved in such farces sit back and play the blame game. Get your MP involved, demand change etc.

I believe your solicitors will prevail as this is a pretty distasteful affair however without knowing the legal argument it's hard of course to really comment on likely success.

When will government step up and make some changes to stop such needless carnage? I'd ask the PM for comment and make his response a matter of public record, he does after all 'work for us' and should act in the interests of common decency, stories like this are just disgraceful.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [108 posts]
28th September 2012 - 14:03

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