Criminal Justice for brain injured cyclist, overturned Met police decision


Cycle Legal's personal injury solicitors are so pleased to report a recent victory for a client cyclist involved in a brain injury claim. This unique case involved Cycle Legal actually challenging London's Metropolitan Police's earlier decision to close their case against the van driver involved and requesting that they review the cycling accident details further. As you can imagine, it's extremely hard to get the Met Police to change their mind when they have already decided to close a case.

“I have to be circumspect, because it is still an ongoing personal injury claim, which is thrilling for the client, as she thought we might have to do the same as the police - and close the case” confirmed Kevin O'Sullivan, Cycle Legal's Cyclist Personal Injury Claims Solicitor.

“Like so many of our cyclist clients with head injuries or brain injuries following an bike accident, she cannot recall how the accident happened because she was knocked unconscious. Again, as is so often the case in a cycling road traffic accident, there were no witnesses, even though it happened on a busy morning in North London at a major junction.”

Worryingly for our client, she was later told by the police that they had looked at the footage and taken the decision that they would not be prosecuting the driver, suggesting that it was all her fault or at least , not the fault of the van driver.

As is often the case, when dealing with cycle accident claims, the police report was damning against the cyclist, more or less indicating the incident was the cyclist's fault. Not the news a cyclist wants to hear whilst suffering from a serious debilitating injury from an accident she has no memory of. 

This is when you need someone to fight your side. Someone with the legal knowledge and a lot of experience in fighting bicycle accident claims. Our team at Cycle Legal have been helping cyclists win compensation claims for many years now - we were the first ‘cyclist only’ solicitors in the UK and we still only act for cyclists. We know the types of challenges and negativity that cyclists can regularly face in legal cases. The police are not necessarily experts in cyclist personal injury claims. And the fact that they may not pursue a prosecution against the driver of the motor vehicle, does not conclude that there is no longer a cycling accident claim that can be pursued against the driver's insurance company. This case was a challenge - and Cycle Legal were up to that challenge.

It was a big risk for us too, as it involved obtaining a rehabilitation report, costing £1,300, and the police evidence alone, including the video footage, cost close to £600. Cycle Legal took the risk on the rehabilitation report because our client's injuries justified this, and taking risks for clients is part of our job. Sometimes these risks can lead to a negative result, and it would, of course, have ended in a financial loss for us.

But on this case, on further investigation of the video footage gathered from the bike accident, after re-watching the footage over and over, and zooming in for more clarity, we could establish that the cyclist was, in fact, as we had suspected, completely not at fault for the bike accident. The van driver had collided with our client clearly from behind.    

What followed next were several letters to the police to say that they should ‘urgently rethink’ their decision to not pursue the driver. Evidence that police action was being taken against the van driver would help significantly with Cycle Legal being able to act in a compensation claim. Persuading the Met Police to reconsider was like talking to a brick wall - even worse, in fact, they sent us a letter saying that they would no longer liaise with us regarding the case. Undeterred, we referred the case to the IOPC, the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

The case manager's supervisor then looked at it and eventually said in writing that they could see their error and confirmed that they would be reopening their file. We thanked her very much for her candour, and here we are!

It is the kind of decision that may not necessarily mean achieving a penny more for our client than we would otherwise have achieved, but these cases are also about criminal justice for cyclists, not just about the financial compensation.

In my experience, this matters more to most cyclists than money.


Cycle Legal

11 Northwold Road Stoke Newington, London N16 7HL