The case of Franklin v Blick  ACTSC 273 should be
enough to send a shudder down the spine of all those lycra-clad
cyclist we see on our roads nowadays (the writer being one of them
– although eschewing the wearing of lycra).
On 30 October 2014, the plaintiff in this case was awarded over
$1.6 million after being knocked off his bicycle by another cyclist
and then being run over by a car.
He had been in a dedicated cycleway at the time. The defendant
was riding in the same cycleway and direction, but was slightly in
front of and to the left of the plaintiff. The bicycle ridden by
the defendant hit a piece of wood on the road, causing the
defendant to veer and collide with the plaintiff. The plaintiff
then fell from his bicycle onto the road in the motor vehicle lane,
and was struck by a car. There was no suggestion the driver of the
car was negligent. The plaintiff suffered significant injuries, and
claimed damages from the defendant on the basis that his injuries
were caused by the defendant's negligence.
The Court held: "One thing is certain. This large piece
of wood was lying on the cycleway directly in the path of the
defendant's bicycle. The lighting in the area was good. Having
seen the photograph of the piece of wood which was struck by the
defendant, and bearing in mind the quality of the lighting at the
scene and the moderate speed at which the defendant was travelling,
I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defendant
would have seen the piece of wood in adequate time to take evasive
action had he been keeping a proper lookout for objects on the
cycleway. I cannot be satisfied that the piece of wood was
positioned in such a way, prior to being struck by the defendants
bicycle, that the plaintiff would have seen it had he been keeping
a proper lookout."
The case apparently caused a surge in interest in policies of
insurance written specifically for cyclists, although the claim
itself was covered by the defendant's home insurance
The Insurance Council of Australia was quoted as confirming such
incidents were covered by some home insurance policies, and more
specific coverage for cycling was also available through clubs and
The moral of the story is, if you cycle and you are in doubt as
to the extent of your available cover for an incident like this;
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Contractors and principals should ensure they have appropriate insurance coverage instead of relying on indemnity clauses.
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