Huge compensation payout for crippled cyclist

Police constable was hit by lorry while trying to pass roadworks

A cyclist left facing a lifetime in a wheelchair after a road accident has won a multi-million compensation payout at the High Court in London. Alexander Kotula, 27, was badly injured when he fell into barriers around electrical works in Park Street, St Albans and was hit by a passing lorry.

The police constable, from London Colney, Hertfordshire, brought a claim for damages against the companies responsible for the works and it was revealed today that he has now settled his case for a lump sum of £2.5 million, plus index-linked and tax-free annual payments to cover the costs of his care for life.

EDF Energy Networks PLC and their contractors, Morrison Utility Services Ltd and Birch Utilities Ltd, admitted their failure to maintain a pedestrian passage of one-metre width through the works meant they were in "breach of duty". They had originally argued that Mr Kotula was in part responsible for his own injuries because he'd either negligently cycled on the pavement or dismounted and carelessly walked through the works.

These claims were rejected in June last year by Judge Simon Brown QC, who said: "The defendants were wholly responsible for this accident in laying out a very hazardous multi-layered trap of a narrow path on a curve with a kerb across it."

The judge said the electrical works were beside a very busy road, with no warnings and no safety zone between the barrier and passing traffic. As the road was narrow and without cycle lanes, he said it was a "reasonable decision" for Mr Kotula to cycle on the pavement.

Mr Kotula suffered devastating spinal and internal injuries, is dependent on a wheelchair for mobility and is unlikely ever to be able to walk again. On top of the £2.5m lump sum, he will receive £30,000-a-year to cover his care costs until he is 45. That annual figure will rise by increments to £85,000 when he is aged 65 and he'll also receive £16,000-a-year until he reaches retirement age to compensate him for his lost earnings.

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