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Court awards Canberra father $9 million after electric bicycle crash left him quadriplegic

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A Canberra father of five has been awarded $9 million dollars in compensation after he collided with a reversing 4WD while riding his electric bicycle home from work.

Mohgamat Hendricks, 49, was riding along the Canberra and Queanbeyan Cycling and Walking Route on Milford Street in Latham on 20 January 2012, when the vehicle drove into his path.

Mr Hendricks, from Macgregor, yelled out, but was unable to brake or swerve. His helmet struck the passenger side window and he fell to the ground.
In a decision handed down last week, the Supreme Court of the ACT found the driver of the 4WD knew his driveway had a ‘massive blindspot’, but failed to drive with due care.

Slater and Gordon ACT Practice Group Leader Martin Carrick said the court found Mr Hendricks’ had less than two seconds to react.

“Mr Hendricks had ridden the same route for more than seven years and he had no reason to think that day would be any different, but his entire life changed in the blink of an eye,” Mr Carrick said.

“The driveway was surrounded by bushes and trees and the Court found the 4WD was reversing too fast to stop without a clear field of vision.

“Mr Hendricks was left quadriplegic as a result of the accident. His entire life changed in just two seconds, while the lasting impact on his young family has also been profound.

The Court noted the increasing popularity of electric bicycles, but emphasised the responsibility of cyclists to be alert, regardless of whether or not an electric motor has been fitted.

“To ride an electric bicycle on a shared pathway in the ACT, the output power must not exceed 200W under law,” Mr Carrick said.

“Mr Hendricks was unaware of the regulations and had fitted a motor to his bicycle in excess of that limit, but the Court found this made no difference to the accident.

“The Court considered the evidence of various witnesses and experts and ultimately found Mr Hendricks’ speed was consistent with that of non-electric bicycles riding on the same path.”

Mr Hendricks was awarded $9 million following a 25 per cent contributory negligence judgment.