Crash payout cyclist is ‘still suffering’ seven years on

A cyclist awarded almost £70,000 in damages after a near-death crash, said he is still paying the price for his “life-changing injuries”.

Alan Curtis, 53, was thrown from his bike while training for a Norwood-backed international ride in India. He struck a pothole while riding through Rickmansworth five years ago.

He fractured his skull, broke his left arm, and suffered nerve damage, losing his immediate senses of smell, taste and hearing. He also lost the ability to feel pain or temperature on the right side of his body.

“Smell and taste gradually came back and my sight settled down, but the doctors said I had to wait a few years for it to work itself through,” said Mr Curtis, director of fundraising and marketing at Langdon Foundation,

“It has now basically plateaued. I have very poor hearing in my right ear, and I cannot discriminate between the noise I want to hear and background noise. This has affected me socially, it has affected my work, and it has affected me at home.

“I make it work as best as I can, but these are life-affecting injuries and they’re not going away. That is one of the main reasons I sought damages.”

Mr Curtis, whose family belong to Northwood Synagogue, sued Hertfordshire County Council on the basis that his accident had forced him to take on a lesser-paying role at work.

He said that, instead of settling out of court, the council had chosen to “dig their heels in”, leading to last week’s High Court case.

“It has cost them a lot more than we would have originally settled for,” he said. “But the judge awarded us on every point.

“My view is that he was using the opportunity to give a message to all councils that they cannot cut corners like this.”

Mr Curtis, who was wearing a helmet at the time of his crash, said he hoped the case would force councils to improve road safety.

“The state of the roads is poor and councils’ attitudes to repairing them is not good enough,” he said. “I also think it has grown consistently worse since I had my accident. People should be able to go cycling without having to worry about street safety.”

He said he no longer cycled because it was not fair to his wife and son “to take those chances”. But he hoped his experience would serve as a warning to other cyclists that they must wear protection.

“If I see a cyclist not wearing a helmet, my inclination is to scream ‘you idiot! That helmet saved my life’.”

Herts Council spokesman Andrew Dawson said: “Mr Curtis’s accident is regrettable. However, the Council is disappointed with the outcome of this judgement.”

Last updated: 12:45pm, March 27 2014