Unlit traffic island represents a serious hazard for motorcyclist

One evening in September 2017, Gary was riding his motorcycle on Seafield Road West in Edinburgh. He had just finished work as a Park Ranger and was on his way home.

As Gary reached the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home to his left, he approached a slow-moving car ahead and as the opposing carriageway was clear, he decided to overtake. He had almost completed his overtake manoeuvre and was about to return to his own carriageway when his motorcycle suddenly collided with a traffic island. He was thrown from his motorcycle and landed heavily on the carriageway ahead. Gary sustained very serious injuries, including a head injury, facial injuries, a collapsed lung and fractures to his spine, ribs, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

Traffic Island Locus UnlitTraffic Island Locus - Police Lit

Police photo of Locus (No lighting)  Police photo of locus (Police lighting)

Due to the severity of his injuries, Gary was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. He remained in intensive care for four months, during which he suffered multiple serious complications, including a stroke, recurring pneumonia, sepsis, and an acute kidney injury. Following his stint in intensive care, Gary required ongoing hospital care and subsequent rehabilitation care until December 2018. Gary remained in hospital for a total of 15 months. While lucky to survive his injuries and subsequent complications, he was sadly rendered severely and permanently disabled. Due to this, Gary was unable to return to his existing house and instead was discharged to a new, suitably adapted, house where he received regular care and assistance from carers and nurses. Needless to say, Gary’s life would never be the same.~

Approximately one month prior to his discharge from hospital, Gary received a bill from the Edinburgh Council. The council requested Gary pay £850 towards the repair of the traffic island he had collided with. Dealing with his life altering injuries and faced with the likely prospect of never being able to work again, Gary was naturally concerned at receiving this large bill. That’s when his good friend decided to reach out to us for some advice. Thereafter, we arranged to speak with Gary himself.

It was apparent that Gary was hesitant about making a claim against Edinburgh Council, particularly as he had been employed by them pre-accident. However, after receiving the bill and concerned about his future, he decided to put his ‘loyalties’ aside and he asked us to prepare a claim on his behalf.

We were initially keen to establish how the incident could have happened. How could Gary, an experienced rider who knew this stretch of road extremely well, collide with a traffic island? His last memory of the accident was of the surrounding area being dark and then his headlights suddenly illuminating the traffic island in front. By this point, he was unable to brake in time and a collision was unavoidable. It became clear to us that the collision had been caused by the lack of lighting surrounding the traffic island. Had the traffic island been properly lit at the time, Gary would have noticed its presence in plenty of time and would not have collided with it.

A claim was intimated against the Edinburgh Council. Unsurprisingly, given their recent request for payment, they denied liability. They insisted that Gary was solely to blame for failing to drive with reasonable care and to keep a proper lookout for the traffic island. At the same time, they did accept that the traffic island had been unlit, and they had already been notified of this prior to Gary’ incident, but that it was retro-reflective and self-righting in any event.

Undeterred by what the council had to say, we pushed on and gathered as much evidence as we could. We were able to have the support of a lighting and traffic expert who prepared a report confirming that the traffic island was indeed not reflective, and that it would have been barely visible until the last minute.

Faced with a continual denial of liability and an apparent lack of interest into funding Gary’ rehabilitation, we raised a Court Action at the Court of Session. This is the highest court in Scotland for civil cases.

We pushed for an early meeting with the Defenders once all of our medical and liability evidence was available and we received a settlement proposal from Edinburgh Council, some 9 months prior to the hearing of the case in Court. With Gary’s agreement, the offer was accepted. The amount received has provided Gary with the security he so needed for his future.

This case demonstrates that we will always fight our client’s corner and also highlights the importance of investigating all aspects of any claim to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of establishing exactly what happened and why.
It is interesting to think that Gary’s story may have been a lot different had he not received the £850 bill in the first place!!



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