Case Study – Cyclist v Unidentified Vehicle

Cordin v Nominal Defendant


Cordin v Nominal Defendant is a decision out of the District Court of NSW. The Court awarded the Plaintiff cyclist $350,000 in damages for the injuries he sustained after he fell from his bicycle. It was alleged by the Plaintiff cyclist that as he was applying his brakes in the course of coasting to negotiate his way around a series of potholes, a motor vehicle struck his bicycle from behind. He was thrown forward onto the roadway and sustained a head injury, compression fractures to his thoracic spine, injuries to both hands, wrists and knees.

Despite attempts, the Plaintiff cyclist was unable to identify the motor vehicle involved and ultimately proceeded with a claim against a Nominal Defendant.

The Nominal Defendant fervently defended the claim. The basis of their defence was that the Plaintiff cyclist sustained injuries after striking a pothole in the road. They denied the involvement of a motor vehicle.

The key issue of determination by the Court was whether a motor vehicle was in fact involved.

The Plaintiff led evidence from an expert that the damage occasioned to his bicycle and the injuries he sustained would have been occasioned in the circumstances he alleged occurred (that is, being struck from behind by a motor vehicle.)

The Defendant led expert evidence to the contrary. Their evidence was that the injuries would have resulted from striking a pothole.

The evidence from the Plaintiff’s expert was ultimately preferred and the finding was made by the Court that a motor vehicle was involved. The Court held that the driver of that vehicle had been negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout of the roadway ahead (in order to appropriately deal with foreseeable risks) and awarded the Plaintiff cyclist damages in the order of $350,000.00.