Cycle Accident Compensation Claims: How To Maximise Your Chances Of Success24th Oct 2019
When a cyclist is knocked off their bike you automatically assume the car driver is to blame: ‘Big bad car hits poor defenceless cyclist’.
And that’s how it is in most of Europe. Across most of the continent there’s an automatic presumption under the law that the car driver is always at fault if they hit a cyclist.
But not in the UK (or Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Romania). In the UK each accident case is considered on its merits.
This – combined with a host of other factors outlined below – can make it hard for some cyclists to prove their case. They need expert legal help.
But The Car That Hit Me Was Speeding!
Here’s the scenario: you’re a cyclist that has been injured by a speeding car. Surely that’s a no brainer isn’t it? It’s obvious that the car driver was to blame, right? After all, they were speeding!
Sadly – and I’m choosing my words carefully here – this is one of those rare instances where general public opinion and the letter of the law do not always go hand-in-hand.
Under the law, breaking the speed limit is not automatically a breach of duty of care by the motorist. Even though it’s a breach of the road traffic laws in the criminal court, this does not automatically imply accident liability in the civil courts.
Yes, you read that correctly. Breaking the legal speed limit does not instantly make a driver culpable in a civil claim. At first glance this seems crazy…but the law is about more than first glances.
Perhaps the civil courts might have something to say had the driver clocked 155mph in a 30mph zone. But if they were doing 34mph in the same 30mph zone you may not be able to claim an instant legal victory.
So as a cyclist you’ll need other factors in your favour to back up your case…
Invest In A Helmet Camera – Do It Now!
The car that hit you may well be fitted with a dashcam; they’re becoming increasingly popular these days for obvious reasons. So as a cyclist you need to fight back with your own video footage.
It’s worth investing in a helmet camera. They have a big advantage over fixed dashcams – they’re attached to your head so they can move. They’re not stuck to a windscreen; they see and film whatever your eyes see. Yet another good reason to always wear a helmet when you ride!
Helmet cameras are a necessity these days because you may not always be able to find a reliable third party witness – especially when you’re lying injured and semi-conscious on the road having just been hit by a car, van or truck.
And even if you can find third-party witnesses to the accident, they may not always be on your side. They may be biased against cyclists because they wrongly assume that:
- you don’t pay road tax (but you do if you run a car as well as your bike)
- you don’t have insurance (but you may well do so – dedicated cycle insurance is a wise investment).
So you’ll need helmet camera footage to back up your case. Not least because the other side will try to claim that you were partly to blame for the crash. They will cite ‘contributory negligence’…
Don’t Let Contributory Negligence Undermine Your Cycle Accident Claim
As cycle injury solicitors we keep a close eye on the outcome of court cases all over the UK. And two worrying words keep popping up in many of them: contributory negligence.
It’s almost as if the courts are unwilling to say the driver is 100% to blame; as if they want to prove they’re not ‘anti-motorist’ when faced with the ‘big car hits poor little cyclist’ scenario.
We see the term ‘contributory negligence’ so much when we look at cases such as these:
- Sinclair v Joyner  – a car driver was liable for failing to stop when a cyclist deviated to their side of road when going around a bend. Contributory negligence of the cyclist – 25%.
- Phethean-Hubble v Coles  – a car driver was liable when a 16-year-old cycled off a pavement. On appeal the cyclist’s contributory negligence was increased to 50%.
- McGeer v McIntosh  – a left-turning HGV collided with a cyclist. Contributory negligence of the cyclist – 30%.
And that’s a problem because it could reduce the amount of compensation you could receive. So you need a lawyer who can put forward legal arguments that keep your contributory negligence percentage to a minimum – or get rid of it altogether.
Find Out More About Cycle Compensation Claims
Need help following a cycle accident? For more information on claiming compensation, contact Coles Miller Partner Adrian Cormack, head of the Personal Injury Department, 01202 355695.