Victims of Bow roundabout road death secure compensation with Unite Legal Services

The family of a London cyclist hit and killed while in a cycle lane has secured significant compensation with backing from Unite Legal Services.

Brian Dorling, 58, was cycling on one of the capital’s controversial ‘Cycle Superhighways’ – sections of road painted blue that supposedly give priority to cyclists – when he was knocked from his bike by a lorry that was turning left.

The collision, which took place on the Bow roundabout in London on the 24 October 2011, is one of three fatal cycling accidents to take place at the roundabout.

Brian’s widow, Debbie, said: “When Brian was killed I didn’t know where to turn. Thankfully, I’ve been a member of Unite for over thirty years so I contacted them first for advice.

“Our family was in the most horrible situation imaginable but I had access to the best support thanks to my union.

“Within an hour of contacting Unite, I’d received a call from one of their solicitors who began to build our case.”

Unite Legal Services launched a case for damages against the driver of the lorry and fought hard to negotiate a settlement on behalf of Debbie and her three children. The case wasn’t straight forward because of allegations by the lorry driver that Brian was partly responsible for the collision. The law also meant that two of Brian’s children who were over 18 at the time were not entitled to make any claim for their loss – despite one being in the midst of a university degree her parents had been funding.

Peter Kavanagh, Regional Secretary, said: “Cases involving road deaths can be incredibly complex, and it’s important that those left behind receive the right legal advice and support.

“In this instance, the defendants tried to argue for a reduction in the compensation for Brian’s death for ‘contributory negligence’, his alleged part in the incident.

“Unite Legal Services fought to ring-fence the settlement and advised our member and her family on how best to navigate the court system.”

Debbie continued: “At times our case felt like a real battle. I never imagined that as the victims of horrific loss we would have to fight our way through the court system and justify our actions at every turn.

“I’m pleased that we were able to settle Brian’s case but the other side’s attempt to point the finger of blame at him will always be hard to swallow. I’m grateful that we had access to proper legal advice and a team who wouldn't back down.”

Debbie has since joined charity RoadPeace – an organisation committed to providing peer support to families in the aftermath of a road death – after being supported by them during her own family’s ordeal.

“The legal advice and the level of backing I received from Unite Legal Services was excellent, however I would also like to thank Cynthia at RoadPeace for her ceaseless support during our darkest days.” concluded Debbie.