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Cyclist to pay £20,000 to woman who stepped into road while using phone

A cyclist says he will go bankrupt after being ordered to pay £20,000 to a woman to stepped in front of him while using her phone.

Robert Hazeldean has been left ‘reeling’ by the case, after being ordered to pay yoga instructor Gemma Brushett, 28, damages despite traffic lights being green for him.

Lawyers acting on his behalf revealed that because he was uninsured, Ms Brushett has sought almost £100,000 in costs, which will be considered at a later hearing.

Mr Hazeldean, who has since moved to the Côte d’Azur to work as a landscape designer, was working at a mental health charity in 2015 when the accident happened near London Bridge.

In a statement released through his lawyers, he said: ‘I am of course deeply disappointed with the outcome, reeling from the impact it will have on my life, and concerned by the precedent that it might set for other cyclists.

‘The case has cast a shadow over our new life in France and left our future uncertain.

‘Covering the costs and the compensation is going to exceed £20,000 and will leave me bankrupt. I can only hope that the focus on this case highlights the vulnerability of cyclists, both physically and against the courts, and that it might help reform a legal system that appears to leave certain road users disproportionately exposed.’

The court heard the light was green for the cyclist, and he shouted and sounded a large air horn but failed to dodge her.

Both were knocked unconscious by the impact – with city finance worker Ms Brushett suffering a minor head injury and Mr Hazeldean ending up with cuts.

She subsequently launched a bid for compensation, despite a judge finding she had stepped into the road while looking at her phone.

A GoFundMe page set up to help with Robert’s legal fees hopes to raise money to cover:

  • £4,300 for the compensation, payable in 14 days.
  • £10,000 to cover the pedestrian’s legal fees, payable in 21 days (this may increase when the final cost award is declared as she is seeking around £100,000 in costs – but £10,000 was the amount indicated by the judge).
  • £7,000 to cover Robert’s own legal fees.

Judge Shanti Mauger, at Central London County Court, said Mr Hazeldean was ‘a calm and reasonable road user.’

But the judge then ruled that he was liable to pay damages as ‘cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways.’

Lawyers now acting on behalf of Mr Hazeldean said he has been left with ‘permanent scarring, both physically and mentally’ following the shock verdict.

Now the keen biker has spoken of his regret that he did not put in a counterclaim against Ms Brushett.

He said: ‘I’d like to thank my lawyers for helping me understand and navigate the complexities of the legal system, and can only regret not having engaged them sooner, delayed as I was by my lack of legal knowledge and concern about the costs.

‘I feel that most cyclists would not have appreciated the consequences of not taking the opportunity to put forward a counterclaim which meant that I was unable to rely on the legislation in the same way that the claimant has to protect myself against a destructive costs award.

‘This was not because I was not injured, but because I do not advocate the claim culture.

‘Had I had legal representation at the time of preparing my defence, I would have taken those steps to protect myself.’

Emma Farrell, head of the Personal Injury team at Levi Solicitors, acting for the cyclist, said: ‘If Mr Hazeldean had been insured, the claimant’s legal costs would have been limited to a mere £6,690.

‘If he had come to us sooner, we would have advised him to enter a counterclaim given that he has been left with permanent scarring, both physically and mentally.

‘He would then have had protection under the law against a large costs order.’

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