Cyclists are among the most vulnerable of all road users, second only to pedestrians crossing the road. The complete openness of the cycle affords no protection at all to cyclists, leaving them totally exposed in case of a collision. Combine that with the unsteadiness that comes with two wheels, and the slightest brush of another vehicle passing by can cause a bicycle accident.
The small size of a bicycle is another factor that contributes to the rising number of accidents involving bikes. Careless drivers or drivers in a hurry to get to their destination often do not see the cyclist until it is too late and more often than not, they will hit the cyclist before they get a chance to hit their brakes.
From a legal standpoint, cycling injury claims are treated the same as other road accident claims. However, there is one important point of distinction. As a cyclist you are likely to get more severely injured than if you were in an enclosed, 4 –wheeled vehicle.
Repercussions Of A Cycling Injury
If another person was at fault for your bicycle accident, you may be entitled to claim for injuries sustained during the accident as well as any other losses you may have suffered. So what exactly are the losses/expenses you can claim for?
- All the expenses incurred for medical treatment of your wounds, including specialist consultation.
- All travelling expenses related to the medical treatment
- Loss of earnings if you are forced to take time off from work due to severe injuries
- Cost of repairing or replacing your bike
What To Do Following A Bicycle Injury
The first thing you need to do is to determine whether or not you are in a safe place after the accident. If you aren’t, you need to immediately make your way to a safe spot. Once you are safe from oncoming traffic, take stock of your injuries and call the Emergency Services so you can get the necessary treatment if you have been badly injured. Remember, no matter what, getting your injuries attended to should always be your primary concern. Everything else is secondary.
If you are planning on filing a compensation claim for your bike injury, you should know that the burden of proof lies with you as the claimant. This means you need to gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim.
The most crucial piece of evidence in any road accident is the testimony of passersby who witnessed the accident. Before the crowd disperses, obtain the names and contact details of as many witnesses as you can.
The second most important piece of evidence is photographs of the accident site, of your damaged bicycle and of your injuries as well. Today, almost everybody carries a camera phone with them. If you had decided to ride without your phone that day, request someone else to get those crucial photographs.
Write down the make, model and colour of vehicle that caused the accident along with its registration number. Obtain the driver’s particulars including the insurance details.
Report the incident at the closest police station. This should be done as soon as you can and definitely within five days of the incident. Your claim could be rejected if you do not have a police complaint registered within 5 days.
Check if the incident was captured by CCTV cameras in the area. If it did get recorded, preserve the evidence before it is accidently wiped out or deliberately destroyed.
Points You Should Absolutely Keep In Mind Regarding Cycling Injury Claims
As with any other personal injury claim, bicycle accident claims too are subject to strict time limits. The statute of limitations is 3 years from the date of the accident. If your injuries and losses were substantial and you feel you have a right to be compensated, you need to act fast.
Never settle directly with any insurance company. Insurance companies that represent the offending driver often approach victims of accidents with offers of settlement in the days or weeks following the incident. While this may seem tempting as it means avoiding a court case, more often than not, the figure quoted would be far lower than the compensation value you are rightfully entitled to.
If you have sustained an injury in a cycling accident, it is advisable to discuss the circumstances of the accident with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure that you receive the full and fair compensation in your claim.