Bernard Lakin, a 60-year old retired bank manager of Creswell, North Derbyshire, has received an out of court settlement of £50,000 from Derbyshire County Council after a poorly-maintained road caused him to fall from his bicycle and suffer head and shoulder injuries. The Council has not admitted liability.
Mind you, it took a while to net the cash. Lakin fell from his bike in June 1997.
"I have always been keen on sports and in particular cycling," said Lakin.
"I was on the road between Whitwell Common and Creswell when the accident happened. I don’t remember much about it, but I was apparently helped by a passing jogger."
Representing Lakin, John Davis of solicitors Irwin Mitchell said: "Derbyshire County Council has chosen to settle the case rather than fight it in court.
"It is well known that cyclists around the country fear poorly maintained road surfaces. It appears that Mr Lakin hit a particularly bad bump which threw him from his bike. He is a very experienced cyclist but a bad road surface can throw anyone.
"The lesson is that roadways do have to be made safe for public use, otherwise we will continue to see serious cases such as this."
Did Lakin hit a poorly maintained bit or road or a windblown twig? We’ll never know, the Council has not bothered to contest the case. Why? The cost of losing is far greater than £50 000.
All councils have contingency funds for paying out to grannies who claimed they tripped on raised paving stones. But an out of court settlement of £50 000 possibly sends out the wrong message – and tellingly, the news of the settlement was provided by the Irwin Mitchell press office.
I’m all for championing the rights of cyclists, especially when there’s an accident where a car is involved, but how far down the compensation culture route have we gone if claims such as Bernard Lakin’s are not even tested?