I was riding my bike in Central London, in an area where taxis stop in a rank in the middle of the road. Traffic was heavy, and I was slowly filtering. I’m a regular commuter and ride into London most days. A black cab passenger door swung open from the opposite side to the driver, straight into my path and knocked me off my bike.
It was a low speed impact, but I’ve opened up my right leg from calf to thigh. I could barely walk, and my leg looks like it has been modelled out of black and red playdough by a child.
I’m sure I’ll be OK, but my solicitors have told me I don’t have a claim, as the door was opened by a passenger, who isn’t insured and doesn’t have to be. They want me to abandon my case and leave me with £1,400 of repairs, trashed waterproofs, and a knackered leg. Please tell me they are wrong!
Name and address withheld
Your solicitors need to grow some balls. There is some truth in what they say, in that a car driver must be insured for accidents ’caused by, or arising out of the use’ of a vehicle. A 1965 case states, ‘a passenger who opens a car door and injures a pedestrian is not in control of the vehicle’.
But the taxi driver clearly stopped to drop off a fare in a taxi rank. The doors can’t be opened in most modern London taxis without the taxi driver releasing the doors. Therefore, you have an arguable case that there was, in legal terms, ‘a joint enterprise’ with the cabbie to use the cab and its door.
If your solicitors had warned you that this could be an outcome but they will still press on, then fair enough. They were right to warn you, but they should not be bottling out. If you don’t get an appropriate settlement, proceed to court. I wouldn’t fancy the insurer’s chances of arguing this in front of a judge.
It surprises me that this point has been taken though. My experience of black cab driver’s insurance companies (and luckily black cabs are involved in very few accidents that I deal with), is that they tend to be quite decent, and pay up where appropriate.
Are you sure this isn’t your solicitors making problems that aren’t actually there? A lot of solicitors who buy in cases from insurance brokers, as the firm you are using do, abandon absolutely sound cases so they don’t have to pay the referral fee of about £750 to your brokers if they think there is a chance of losing. I think this has happened here.