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.
Common Cycling Injury Claims
The main problem that cyclists have is the fact that many motorists fail to “see them” or take appropriate action to ensure their safety. The most common accidents resulting in cycling injury claims include:
- Drivers turning into the path of cyclists.
- Pedestrians stepping in front of cyclists.
- Injuries caused by potholes and badly maintained roads.
- Drivers failing to react to cyclists on roundabouts.
Despite the fact there have been numerous government campaigns to make motorists more aware of cyclists, other road users are still a hazard to many cyclists. When you bear in mind the size of a bicycle compared to a vehicle, never mind the power and weight, it is not difficult to imagine the potential for serious injuries. Some of the more common cycling injuries include:
- Cuts and bruises
- Broken bones
- Deep lacerations
- Crush injuries
- Life threatening injuries
Thankfully the vast majority of cyclists abide by laws requiring safety equipment to be worn at all times and we can only guess at the number of lives this has saved. It is also interesting that schools now regularly hold cycling proficiency lessons and encourage cycling and all of its fitness benefits. There are hopes that the number of individuals owning and using their bikes on a regular basis will rise in the future but there is an obvious need to ensure the roads are as safe as possible to avoid injury and cycling accident claims being pursued.
Proving Negligence In Cycling Injury Claims
In order to pursue a cycling injury claim there is a requirement to prove negligence on behalf of one or more third parties. As there are a number of common injuries among cyclists we shall look at various parties which could be liable.
Cycling Accidents With Motorised Vehicles
The vast majority of cycling accidents tend to involve some kind of motorised vehicle whether this is a motorbike, car, van, lorry or wagon. If the driver of the vehicle for example failed to spot a cyclist on a roundabout and turned directly into their path injuring them then they may be liable for cycling accident compensation. There may also be additional issues to take into consideration such as bicycle lights in the evening/night time and the speed at which the vehicle or bicycle was moving. However, in many instances it is fairly easy to prove negligence on behalf of a driver when either turning directly into a cyclist or failing to spot them on a roundabout.
Badly Maintained Roads
It is no surprise to learn that the standard of UK roads has fallen over the last few years and bouts of extreme weather can make difficult situations even worse. We know that councils up and down the UK are battling to fill potholes while receiving regular bicycle accident claims for compensation as a consequence of injuries caused by ill maintained roads. Injuries caused by potholes are a whole different category of compensation as they can involve vehicle damage and actual injuries to drivers, cyclists or pedestrians. However, there are unique difficulties to cyclists when it comes to ill maintained roads as very often they are ushered into the side of the road by inconsiderate drivers.
On occasions where cyclists are “pushed into the side” by passing motorists and receive an injury after going over a pothole, this may well result in shared negligence between the driver and the authority looking after the roads.
Bicycle Accidents With Pedestrians
When crossing roads it is natural for pedestrians to look out for vehicles and as a consequence many fail to spot cyclists in their vicinity. We have seen many occasions where cyclists have received significant injuries, often as a consequence of the speed they were cycling at, when trying to avoid pedestrians. There are also occasions where pedestrians receive injuries as a result of direct contact with a passing cyclist.
On the whole, where a cyclist is on the road it is the responsibility of the pedestrian (and their legal duty of care) to check before stepping into the road. Failure to do so can result in a ruling of liability and payment of potentially large compensation claims for serious cyclist injuries.
Lodging A Cycling Injury Compensation Claim
If you believe that a third party is liable for a cycling injury then you must first prove negligence. Obviously, your first action when involved in an accident should be to seek medical attention and the appropriate treatment where required. Where there has been a serious injury very often the police will be involved which together with the emergency services will take a detailed account of the bike accident and surrounding circumstances. These detailed accounts can prove to be extremely helpful if you pursue a cycling accident compensation claim as they are from unconnected third-parties.
Where possible you should take a photograph of the damaged bicycle, any other vehicles involved and/or ill maintained roads. This together with witness statements will also serve to strengthen your case for damages. It is also a good idea to write down a timeline of the events at your earliest convenience while everything is clear in your mind. Even though many people appreciate there is a three-year window of opportunity to make a cycling injury claim, time can often blur memories and potentially weaken your case. In bicycle accidents where children are involved a claim can be made on their behalf up to their 18th birthday or by the individual up to their 21st birthday.
Cycling Accident Solicitors
The vast majority of cycling accident solicitors in the UK will have extensive knowledge and experience in cycling injury claims. A cycling accident solicitor will review your medical records, witness statements, photographs and timeline of events, and advise you whether you have a strong case. In the event that they believe you have a good claim to cycling accident compensation you will likely be offered the No Win No Fee option. A No Win No fee agreement ensures that the claimant will not be liable for the solicitors expenses in the event that the cycling injury claim is unsuccessful. In exchange for this the solicitor will agree with the claimant a “success fee” of up to 25% of any compensation awarded.
Once the evidence has been lodged with the courts the defendant will receive a copy and can review the evidence against them. In the majority of cycling injury claims liability will be fairly easy to prove and the defendant will probably look to settle before going to court to limit their legal costs and bring the matter to an end as soon as possible. In situations where negligence for the cyclists injuries is challenged or there might be more than just one party potentially liable, this will go before the courts. It’s worth mentioning that it is not the duty of the claimant to prove any degree of negligence by more than one party, this is something that the judge will rule on after reviewing all evidence.
Cycling Injury Compensation
As the type of injuries received by cyclists in UK varies from mild to potentially life-threatening and even death, the degree of compensation awarded will vary accordingly. There are two specific types of compensation available when pursuing a cycling accident claim which are referred to as general damages (injury) and special damages (expenses). In bicycle accident claims general damages relate to compensation for issues directly related to the accident such as:
- The injured cyclists pain and suffering
- Any mental trauma
- Life changing injuries
The Judicial College regularly releases information highlighting past compensation awards for specific types of injury. These figures are not legally binding but they do provide the courts with a point of reference when considering damages for cycling injuries. There is also a degree of discretion/variation which allows each cycling injury claim to be considered on its own merits and the appropriate level of compensation awarded.
Special damages in cycling injury claims relate purely and simply to financial redress for expenses incurred and future funding requirements. This covers specific issues such as:
- The injured cyclists loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Adaptions to the home
- Additional transport expenses
As special damages are quite literally reimbursement of expenses the injured cyclist has incurred and provision for funding requirements going forward, there is no variation or discretion. Where funding will be required for future medical treatment this will be calculated by an appropriately experienced medical professional.
If you have received injuries in a cycle accident and would like more information on cycling injury claims and what possible compensation settlement you may be looking at please contact us today.