Charity Cyclist’s Widow Receives Compensation

Charity Cyclist’s Widow Receives Compensation | Middletons Solicitors 

The widow of a man who was killed after hitting a pothole in the road during a charity bike ride has been awarded a six figure sum in compensation from North Yorkshire County Council.
Martyn Uzzell was completing a charity bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats and was cycling on the A65 near Giggleswick when he hit a pothole in the road and was thrown off his bike into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
The pothole in the road had been reported to the council by the police, but the message was lost and in addition, the council itself had inspected the road and had noted the defect and ordered it to be fixed within one month.

Kate Uzzell, Martyn’s wife, wanted North Yorkshire County Council to be held up for a criminal charge such as corporate manslaughter but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ruled this out, which left Mrs Uzzell to pursue civil action against the council for her husband’s death.
Ultimately, the council settled the case outside of court ensuring that they made it clear that they accepted no responsibility for Mr Uzzell’s death. Hopefully the council will make some changes to their practices as a result of this case against them, but that does not change the outcome of the accident.

Following years of cold winters and a lack of investment in the road infrastructure since the recession, there are numerous potholes and defects on our roads, but what are the legal responsibilities of a council to maintain the roads to a good standard?

They have a duty of care to maintain the roads, pavements and walkways but interestingly, they do not have a duty to improve them. They do have a defence though provided to them in the Highways Act 1980. In any action, you will have to prove that the council did not maintain the road to a standard that any reasonable person would expect. It seems in Mr Uzzell’s case that the road was not maintained as any person would have expected and it is probably for this reason that the case was settled.

For more information about this article or any aspect of our accident and injury claims services, please call Jenny McKellar in our Westbury office on 01373 865577 or  email jmckellar@mulaw.co.uk and we will be delighted to help you (there is no charge for initial telephone discussions).