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Compensation victory for hit and run victim
The victim of a hit and run who was left lying in the middle of a busy main road has finally won his two-year fight for justice.
Alan Morris, 62, was knocked from his bicycle in Ashton-under-Lyne as he rode to work on the morning of 23 April, 2007. Now, after a 30 month legal battle, he has been awarded a substantial sum in compensation after a judge said he simply did not believe the word of the driver involved.
"I was cycling to work at around 6.20 that day," said Mr Morris, of Ashton. "I was using the roundabout commonly known as the Asda roundabout, on Park Parade, and I noticed a bus approaching. The bus driver stopped to give way, but then his face suddenly looked very alarmed. The look on his face sticks with me to this day."
Mr Morris, an engineer, said there were two lanes approaching the roundabout on Park Parade, and the bus was in the left-hand lane.
"I soon saw why the bus driver was looking so worried," he said. "A car appeared next to the bus, driving very fast in the right-hand lane. I could tell that the car was trying to overtake the bus at the roundabout and wasn't going to stop. I remember feeling completely helpless as it got nearer. I thought I was going to be killed."
The vehicle - a white Volvo estate - knocked Mr Morris from his bike and sent him flying through the air. "It seemed to take forever before I hit the ground," he said. "Then the car just sped off. I was lying in the middle of the carriageway - I was terrified another vehicle would run over me. I tried to move out of the way, but I couldn't stand up. I was helpless."
An approaching car stopped and blocked the carriageway next to the bus, and other drivers rushed to Mr Morris' aid. "I can remember them talking as they were waiting for the police and the ambulance to arrive," he said. "I clearly head someone saying 'forget it, he's had it.' It was just awful."
Mr Morris was taken by ambulance for emergency treatment at nearby Tameside Hospital.
Despite initial fears that he had broken his pelvis, he luckily sustained no life-threatening injuries but was treated for a number of cuts and bruises, including a severe laceration to his head. He still suffers pain in his back, neck and chest as a result of the incident.
Polly Fletcher, a road traffic accident specialist with Fentons Solicitors, represented Mr Morris. "Investigations were carried out to try to identify the vehicle and driver responsible for causing Mr Morris's injuries," said Ms Fletcher.
"One witness provided a statement to the police which included part of the registration number of the Volvo. Unfortunately the number was incomplete, but a few weeks later the same witness saw the vehicle again. Fortunately this time they were able to note down the correct registration."
Ms Fletcher said police immediately followed-up this new lead and identified the defendant as the registered keeper of the Volvo. Although he owned the vehicle, he did not have a valid driving licence. "Five days after police had spoken to him about the incident, the vehicle was sold," said Ms Fletcher. "It was clear that this man had been responsible for the injuries to Mr Morris, and was trying to avoid being held accountable."
Unfortunately the driver was never charged, a fact Ms Fletcher said the driver tried to use to his advantage during the civil court proceedings which followed. "The lack of a criminal conviction made this a difficult case," she said, "but all the evidence pointed to this one person, and we were determined to support Mr Morris in his pursuit of justice."
The case went before Bury County Court in October, but the driver failed to appear and the judge found in favour of Mr Morris in the defendant's absence. The driver later applied to have that ruling set aside, citing his own medical reasons for being unable to attend the earlier hearing.
On 4 December, the case was back before District Judge Pickup. "The judge completely dismissed the driver's account of events," said Ms Fletcher. "He said the excuses for not attending court were not believable, and ruled that the judgment from October in Mr Morris' favour should stand."
The judge awarded damages to Mr Morris and ordered the defendant to pay costs. "This has been a traumatic experience for my client and his family," said Ms Fletcher. "Now it's over and justice has been served, they can look forward to moving on with their lives."
How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of road traffic accidents and hit and run incidents.
If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.
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