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Making a Claim for Bicycle Injuries

Many people do not consider claiming compensation for injuries. This may be because you are unaware that you would be entitled to claim, or you just feel it is not worth the effort. With the right guidance and legal support, claiming compensation can often be a simple process and can have a major impact on your life. Compensation is designed to provide you with funds to restore yourself back to the position you were in before the accident. Injuries can often have a drastic effect on you and your family’s lifestyle. They can prevent you from working and cause a loss of income for the family. You can incur additional costs and you can be prevented from carrying out daily domestic tasks.

Compensation is awarded in an attempt to place you back in the position you were in before the accident. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and it wasn’t entirely your fault, you could be entitled to claim compensation. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible following an accident. The law is designed to provide compensation if you have been injured in an accident which was caused by someone else’s mistake or inattention. By claiming compensation, you are not taking advantage of someone else, you are merely restoring yourself to the position you would have been in had the accident not occurred.

The Importance of Seeking Compensation

General damages and special damages

In successful compensation claims, an injured person will be awarded both general damages and special damages.

General damages

General damages are for the injury itself. You are awarded for any pain, suffering, and loss of amenity caused by the accident. Damages are assessed using Judicial Guidelines and by reference to previous cases with similar injuries.

Special damages

Special damages are the legal term for damages to compensate for financial losses and/or expenses stemming from the negligence or wrongful act of another, such as costs of treatment and/or services and an award for the loss of opportunity on the labour market.

You should keep a record of any losses and it also helps to keep receipts or invoices as your evidence.

Bicycle accidents can give rise to significant financial losses especially if you are prevented from working. In many cases it is possible to obtain an early payment of the costs of treatment. To obtain payments from the Defendant’s Insurers it is necessary to show they are responsible for the accident and then it will be possible to recover the costs in full if the claim is successful. An admission of liability is however necessary before the compensation claim can be paid and this can take some time.

Medical evidence

It is necessary to prove a claim with clear evidence of an injury. Many cyclists are very stoical and do not want to make a fuss. This is understandable but not useful when making a compensation claim.

If you are injured you should seek medical attention. It helps to take photographs of your injuries and you should explain to your GP exactly how you were injured and ensure it is recorded in your medical records. This can be useful evidence if injuries become the subject of dispute. Seeking compensation is a way of trying to regain some of the losses caused by the negligence of others. Sometimes it’s the only way to achieve some measure of justice.

Determining eligibility

Most cycle accidents are the result of a driver or another road user. In these cases, it is important to establish that the defendant (the person you are making the claim against) owed you a duty of care, that this duty of care was breached, and that the breach of duty caused your injuries. This can be simply explained by the example of a car pulling out of a side road into the path of a cyclist, in which case the driver has breached their duty of care by not properly checked for traffic on the main road and is therefore the cause of the accident and any resulting injuries to the cyclist. If you are successful in proving this, the defendant will be liable, and it is then a question of what losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

The two basic factors determining if you are entitled to compensation are:

1) Whether your injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence, and;

2) Whether the person at fault has the means of paying for your claim.

If you can answer yes to both questions, it is likely you will be successful in a claim. This is regardless of whether your accident was a collision with another vehicle, a pothole, or a defective manhole or drain cover.

If you have been involved in an accident and believe you were also at some degree of fault, it is still worth seeking legal advice. For example, if you were cycling at night, with no lights, wearing dark clothing and a vehicle pulled out of a side road, hitting you. In this situation, the vehicle driver will most likely be at fault as it is expected cyclists should be visible, and he should have waited until the road was clear however you may be found to also be partly to blame. Another example would be filtering through slow-moving or stationary traffic. If you were hit by a car while doing this, you may be partly to blame however the driver would normally be at fault as they would not have expected you to be passing them on the inside. These are just guidelines and there are often exceptions, if you are unsure whether you are eligible to claim, you should seek legal advice.

If you are considering making a claim, you should be able to prove that someone else was at fault for your accident. If the accident was caused by a pothole or other item on the road, you need to show who was responsible for that item. This can be difficult if the accident occurred some time ago. If possible, take photographic evidence of what caused your accident. Another example would be if you were hit by a car. To prove negligence, you would need to show the driver was doing something they should not have been doing, for example, breaking the speed limit or going through a red light.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence occurs where the injured person caused or contributed to the accident. This is important as in some circumstances the injured person may be found to be the sole cause of an accident and therefore not entitled to compensation. If you have had an accident and been injured, you may still be entitled to compensation. An example is a road accident involving two motor vehicles, where a vehicle collides with a parked car resulting in the collision of the parked car with a cyclist or pedestrian. If you are partially at fault, it does not mean you are not entitled to compensation. Being partially at fault does not debar you from making a claim for injuries; however, your entitlement to damages will be reduced by the percentage you were at fault.

Steps to take after a bicycle injury

Try to keep the bicycle in the same condition it was after the accident. Try not repair it without the consent of the insurance company of the driver involved in the accident. If the damage to the bicycle is severe, you may want to have it inspected at a repair shop. In certain cases, it may also be appropriate to keep the bicycle as evidence, especially if the matter goes to court.

You should try to get photographs of the accident location, the vehicle involved in the accident, and your injuries. Snapshots of your injuries being treated in hospital, can also be helpful. If you are not able to do this yourself, perhaps because of the severity of your injuries, ask a friend or a family member. Your goal should be to document the accident promptly while details are still fresh in your mind and of witnesses. Do not rely on a police report.

Seek medical attention

If you have sustained injury, however minor it may seem, see your GP or medical professional as soon as possible. Explain your injury was sustained in an accident, and give as much detail as you can about what happened. Some symptoms may take hours or days to become apparent, and a full medical history will be valuable evidence if you later make a claim. Medical treatment after a bicycle accident is at least as important as taking care of a motor vehicle accident. Some internal injuries are not obvious and could take hours or days to become potentially life-threatening.

If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident, you should consider the following:

Gathering evidence

These are but a few examples of how you could gather evidence. Each case is likely to be different so it is advisable to apply thought on how you will be able to gather the most evidence relevant to the circumstances of your accident. The more evidence you are able to gather, the better, as it will increase the chances of your case being successful.

Making a claim

To support your claim, documents outlining the injuries and damages need to be obtained from the treating physician. These documents should be kept up-to-date, as they may be used later when negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. For the injuries mentioned in these documents, a medical report will be needed to explain the nature of the accident, the resulting injuries, the course of treatment and prognosis for the future.

It is a good idea to keep receipts for any expenses incurred as a result of the accident. An example would be taxi fare to and from the hospital if the injuries sustained prevent the person from riding their bicycle. These expenses should be included in the claim as damages.

Limited time to claim

There are very strict time limits for making compensation claims. In most cases a claim must be started within three years from the date of the accident. In cases involving children the three years runs from the date of the eighteenth birthday to the eve of their twenty-first birthday. If the time limit expires before a claim is settled or legal proceedings have been issued it may not be possible to recover compensation.

Statistics of cycling accidents

50% of crashes are a single bicycle accident

21% of crashes are a bicycle-bicycle crash

34% reduction in pedal cyclist casualty rates per billion miles travelled in 2020 in the UK compared to the previous 12 months (UK Government)

Between 2004 and 2020, in Great Britain, fatalities increased by 5%, serious injuries by 26%, but in the same period pedal cycle traffic grew by 96% (UK Government)

Between 2004 and 2020, in Great Britain, the index of pedal cycle traffic rose faster than that of serious injuries and that of slight injuries (UK Government)

Cyclists had a 9% share of all road users for serious injuries on EU roads in 2019 (European Commission)

Bicycle vs Car Accident Statistics

195 vs 4,891 – casualty rate per billion passenger miles (car occupants vs pedal cyclists) in 2019 in Great Britain (UK Government)

89,331 vs 16,884 – casualties in reported road accidents (car occupants vs pedal cyclists) in 2019 in Great Britain (UK Government)

Bicycle Accident Statistics UK

In 2020, 16,294 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents (RoSPA)

3% reduction in reported road casualties in Great Britain by pedal cyclists in 2020 compared to 2019 (UK Government)

5% reduction in reported road casualties in Great Britain by pedal cyclists in 2020 compared to 2010 (UK Government)

At Oliver & Co Solicitors our personal injury team deal with many claims by cyclists. Call our team on 01244 312306 to speak with a specialist for free legal advice on how we can help you with a claim.

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