A few years ago, I met a gentleman who had been in a terrible cycling accident. He was an instantly likeable man, with a truly tragic story. He was a new arrival to Canada, who had been trying to get into the country for years. He finally got into Canada. He taught himself English. He got a job. And then, he was hit by a car while cycling. To make matters worse, the investigating police officer charged him, not the driver.
The officer likely decided to charge the cyclist, instead of the driver, for a myriad of reasons: there may have been an anti-cycling bias, there may have been racial bias, but there was also the inescapable fact that the cyclist was IN PART at fault. He had been riding on the sidewalk, late at night with no lights on.
The man entered my office looking very nervous. He came from a country where there is an understandable mistrust of lawyers and the legal system. He knew he was partially at fault for the collision, but explained that he was not entirely familiar with the “rules of the road” in Ontario, and had thought that it was both safe and legal to ride on the sidewalk. He had not been wearing a helmet because he had never heard of anyone wearing a bike helmet. He thought that there was no possible way that he could have a viable case. He was painfully apologetic. He didn’t want to “waste” my time. He most certainly didn’t want to start a fruitless lawsuit.
Fast forward a few years: I got to hand this man a cheque for over one million dollars. You see, he had a very viable case. The driver who hit him was also partially at fault. And, more importantly, he was entitled to extensive no-fault benefits regardless of who was at fault.
Unsurprisingly, the cyclist was thrilled that he had come in for a consultation. And hopefully, he left with a slightly different view of lawyers and the legal system.
The lesson from this story? If you are hurt in a cycling accident, go see a lawyer. In my practice, and many other lawyers’ as well, initial consultations are free of charge.