What should a cyclist wear?
Section 59 of the Highway Code states that cyclists should wear:
- A cycle helmet
- Appropriate cycle clothing which will not get tangles
- Light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight or poor light
- Reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark
The Current Legal Position on Helmets
It goes without saying that the use of a cycle helmet is advisable and has saved lives by preventing serious injury. The current standard for cycle helmets is the European EN 1078.
However, you are not committing an offence by riding a bicycle without a helmet; it is not a legal requirement under UK law. This means that you will not be stopped or fined for cycling on the road without wearing a helmet.
Despite this, failure to wear a cycle helmet may affect any damages payment you receive if you suffer a head injury. Should you have an accident and suffer a head injury as a result, the court is likely to apply a percentage deduction to your award for damages as you have not taken reasonable steps to protect yourself.
For cyclists, this means that the court may view the lack of protective headgear as contributory negligence. This issue can be raised where a cyclist has been injured in a crash and then sues for their injuries.
Under Rule 59 of the Highway Code it states that ‘you should wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened.’ This key aspect of the Highway Code is not compulsory, but the courts do use it when assessing a person’s liability for the crash.
Can the damages awarded in a personal injury claim be reduced through my failure to wear a cycle helmet?
Yes, a percentage reduction can be made for what is known as “contributory negligence.”
Two things are necessary for the court to establish that there has been contributory negligence:
- The cyclist must have been, in some respect, at fault; and also
- The cyclist’s fault must then have contributed to this injury. This would rule out instances whereby even if they had worn a helmet it would have made little or no difference to their resulting injuries.
For the first test, the Courts may agree that when a cyclist takes to the road without wearing a helmet then they are at fault. This conforms to the Highway Code’s recommendations, but may not apply to cyclists riding away from a road, or to young children. The court may decide not to take this view at all as at this moment it is not a legal precedent.
The argument may be that the cyclist, by not wearing the helmet, actually caused or contributed to his injury. The courts have tended to take the view that the helmet will only help prevent injury to a cyclist if the collision occurs at less than 12mph and that the fall itself is only 1.5 metres in its maxim. The reason why the courts impose this is that helmets have only been tested up to these limits. It is unknown whether they would be able to sustain and prevent injury if the impact is at greater speeds, or if the resulting fall is at a greater height than 1.5 meters.
Where Compensation May Be Reduced
The courts have recently reduced an injured cyclist’s compensation for the first time in a case called Reynolds v Strutt and Parker. The reason why the courts had decided that this case merited a deduction in compensation was that the speed of the impact was sufficiently low enough for a helmet to have prevented the full extent of his subsequent injuries.
This makes it clear that if there is an impact speed beyond the range of what a safety helmet could protect, then the court will not deduct any compensation as a result of not wearing it.
Oliver & Co Solicitors has extensive experience dealing with accidents that have happened to you in a wide variety of circumstances including cycle accident claims.
We have a specialist team who will fight for the compensation that you deserve. Our team understands that it can be a very difficult and daunting time for you and will do their best to offer a sympathetic ear along with unparalleled legal expertise. If you have suffered a personal injury, which was not your fault, you may be entitled to claim for compensation.
We understand that the injuries that you have suffered can have severe consequences on your day to day life. When fighting for your compensation we take into account if you have had to take time off work, if you have had to pay for medication and any other losses that you may have incurred.
Call 01244 312306 to speak to a member of our specialist team of road traffic accident solicitors who will assist you further with this matter.