Wanstalls Solicitors

Lorry design changes to help prevent bicycle accidents

Whilst we are all aware of the many benefits of cycling it is an unfortunate fact that cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable users of our roads.

Whilst there are many hazards for cyclists from poor road surfaces to other road users one particular hazard are lorries.

In London, although lorries only account for less than 5% of the traffic on the capital’s roads, more than 50% of fatal accidents involving cyclists are caused by them. Across Europe 18% of fatal accidents involving cyclists are caused by heavy goods vehicles.

The above statistics only relate to fatal accidents but it is clear that lorries as a group of road users represent a significant hazard to cyclists as they will also be implicated in many less serious accidents.

To help address the hazard represented by lorries to cyclists and pedestrians in particular the European Parliament have approved new rules to make big lorries safer for other road users.

The proposed legislation will force a change to the design of lorry cabs with larger windows and rounder fronts. The larger windows are intended to get rid of the driver’s “blind spots” and the more rounded design is intended to reduce the severity of an impact between a lorry and a pedestrian or cyclist.

The design changes will also make large lorries more aerodynamic which will have the effect of reducing fuel consumption.

A strong supporter of the proposed legislation is Boris Johnson the mayor of London who is a great supporter of cycling within the capital. Boris Johnson is concerned that the UK government may oppose the changes. It is certainly hoped that the government will back these important changes.

The bad news is that even if the government backs the changes it will be a long time until they come into force. As the proposed legislation is aimed at making the changes in lorry design compulsory it will take about seven years before the legislation starts to take effect.

Anything that improves the safety of cyclists is to be applauded but unfortunately whatever measures are put in place to improve cycling safety accidents will still happen.

At DMA Law we have a great deal of experience in dealing with claims for injured cyclists. If you are a cyclist who has been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident then why not call Ian on 0191 375 3938 to discuss your potential claim. Ian is happy to discuss the claim without charge and without obligation.

Ian Wanstall

Close Encounters of the Pheasant kind

This is one for the bikers out there.

Last Sunday morning held the promise of a lovely day weather wise so I set off bright and early for a ride up into the wilds of Northumberland.

It was indeed a great morning but as I was proceeding “briskly” along the road from Langley up to Alston a pheasant decided to run across the road in front of me and unfortunately his timing was poor. The pheasant hit my leg and then passed between my leg and the bike.

I thought little more about it other than to think how lucky I was that the pheasant wasn’t flying at the time!

I stopped to have breakfast at my favourite café in Wolsingham now being back in the lovely county of Durham. I went to turn off the ignition (on the Honda Shadow the ignition key is behind the riders left leg) and there were a few feathers but no ignition key. On closer inspection the pheasant had got it revenge and had broken off the ignition key in the lock.

No problem thought I a screw driver from the tool kit could be used to turn off the ignition. That would be the tool kit that is behind the side panel which needs the key to open it. No breakfast as I couldn’t leave the bike with the ignition turned on!

I also noted that the bike was a bit low on fuel. That would be the fuel tank with the locking petrol cap. A slow crawl home hoping that I didn’t run out of petrol.

So now I am left with a fairly useless bike that I can’t turn off or put fuel in. Did I have a spare key, no of course not. I contacted the previous owner who had lost the spare key many years ago.

This is a bike that is around 20 years old so I doubt that Honda would be able to supply a replacement key so what next.

If the pheasant was the villain of the piece then the heroes of this story are Ace Motorcycles at Pity Me (yes that is the real name of the area) in Durham. I went and told them the whole sorry story and they said “don’t worry, just bring it in and we’ll sort it”. I managed to work the ignition with a screw driver and took the bike in.

True to their word they managed to extract the remains of the key and get two new ones cut from the remains. They also did an unrelated job of fixing the cooling system that needed a new switch. Rather than charging me for an expensive new item they salvaged one from an old Honda they had at a fraction of the cost! Great service from people who really do their best to help – I highly recommend them.

So now all is well and a summer of biking beckons. Look out Northumberland wildlife I’ll be back!

Ian wanstall


Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club Armed Forces Day 2014

The Bad – Landers Motorcycle Club have organised the Armed Forces Day at Bents Park in South Shields on Sunday the 22nd of June.

The event celebrates the work of our armed forces but is also a fun day for all the family with lots of events and stalls.

Bad Landers Motorcycle ClubAs you can imagine with the event being organised by a motorcycle club there is also a strong biking element to the event.

As regular readers of my blogs will be aware I am myself a keen biker and naturally as a personal injury lawyer I like to help my fellow bikers who have been involved in accidents.

I will be manning the DMA Law stand at the event to publicise in particular the services that we can offer to bikers who have unfortunately been involved in an accident.

If you can tear yourself away from the exciting events on the day why not call by the DMA Stand and say hello. To make this prospect more tempting, if there could be anything more tempting than meeting me, we will be having a free prize draw with some great prizes.

It promises to be a great day so why not come along. For more information about the events and attractions on the day visit the Bad-Landers MCC website at www.badlanders.co.uk for more details.

I hope to see you there!

Ian Wanstall at DMA Law

An Interesting Article on Claims for Accidents at work

I recently read an article in the Law society Gazette which was based on a joint report published by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and entitled “The Compensation Myth”.

What is quite shocking is that the report indicates that the latest figures available show that there were around 610,000 people injured at work only 90,000 successful compensation claims were made.

It has to be born that not all injuries at work could form the basis of a claim but it is quite clear from the statistics that many people who should be compensated for injuries they receive at work are simply not receiving compensation.

Despite it being clear that we do not have a compensation culture in this country; the insurers, who are a large and powerful lobby, have still been able to persuade the government that it must be made more difficult for even those with legitimate claims to make a successful claim.

There was a recent change in the law that went through almost unnoticed by the public that makes it more difficult for a person injured at work to recover compensation.

The relationship between an employer and an employee has for many years been governed by many regulations aimed at making the workplace safer. The recent legislation is aimed at preventing an employer from being liable for injury caused simply as a result of a breach of regulations. It is now necessary to show actual negligence on the part of the employer increasing the burden on the employee making a claim with regard to evidence.

The difficulty in claims against an employer is that it is generally the employer who has control of the evidence on which a claim is based. Anything that increases the evidential burden on the person making the claim will always benefit the employer.

Other changes have been introduced aimed at achieving the same result of making it more costly for the claimant and cheaper for the employers insurers.

For some years now low value RTA cases have been dealt with on an electronic system called the “Portal”. This has recently been extended to other types of claims including employers liability claims with a value up to £25,000. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing as the electronic process is quicker than the previous way of dealing with claims as the time limits are much tighter in the electronic system.

The problem with the electronic system is that only a limited amount of fixed costs are payable.

Another recent change is that where a case is dealt with on a conditional fee agreement basis (no win, no fee agreement) where the insurance premium to protect the agreement and the solicitor’s success fee were previously recoverable from the other side they now have to be paid by the client.

This is not a development that should put anyone off pursuing a claim as the amounts to be paid are only payable at the end of a successful case and payable out of the damages received. The law says that they can never be more than 25% of the client’s damages.

In other words it is only if the client receives damages that they will have anything to pay and they will always receive at least 75% of their damages.

It should be remembered that employers liability insurance is compulsory so all employers are insured against claims against them by injured employees. There is nothing even under the new rules that should put anyone off making a claim if they have been injured at work.

If you have been injured in the course of your employment and are not sure whether to make a claim or not, why not give me a call. I am very happy to provide free initial advice on whether you are likely to have a successful claim and then it is up to you to decide if you would like to go ahead with a claim.

Call Ian Wanstall at DMA Law on 0191 375 3938 to discuss a potential accident claim without cost or obligation.

Ian Wanstall