Cycling accidents: compensation and contributory factors
It may not surprise you to learn that, after pedestrians, cyclists are the most ‘at risk’ group on UK roads and 60 per cent more likely than car drivers to be seriously injured or killed in an accident.
In many cases, cyclists may consider that they are at least partly to blame if their actions or decisions could have contributed to an accident occurring or increased the severity of the injuries suffered.
‘Nevertheless, they may still be within their rights to seek compensation,’ says Navdip Gill, head of the Personal Injury solicitors team at Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors in Milton Keynes. ‘Compensation can usually be claimed for any accident involving a cyclist, where someone else is primarily responsible, including in cases where you are accused of having not worn suitable clothing, of travelling at night without lights, of having not obeyed road traffic signs or signals, or of having failed to abide by the Highway Code.’
Navdip is keen to encourage anyone injured in a cycling accident, even those who may be partly at fault, to always seek legal advice on their position, particularly where their injuries are serious.
As one of the top-ranking personal injury lawyers in the country, Navdip has spent the past 20 years building a formidable reputation as someone who takes on, and typically wins, the sort of challenging and complex cycling accident claims that most other lawyers turn away.
Expertise in cycling accidents
Over the years we have helped countless injured cyclists to claim the compensation they deserve, and provided the support that both they and their families have needed in order to begin the long and often difficult process of rebuilding their lives. This includes practical support, like arranging for private treatment to be carried out to avoid long NHS waiting times and securing interim payments to help cover living expenses and other costs while a client waits for a claim to be settled.
A track record of success
One of the most notable cases we have dealt with recently saw us secure a substantial payout for a cyclist who was badly hurt when hit by a car whose driver had failed to look both ways when exiting a car park, and who was entitled to compensation, despite the fact that they were cycling the wrong way down a one-way system.
We are also currently dealing with two separate accidents in which cyclists have sustained serious brain, head and body injuries while riding without a helmet. The clients came to us for legal advice because of our nationally recognised expertise as head injury solicitors, and specifically brain injury solicitors, and also because of our impressive record in securing brain injury compensation.
In the first case, the cyclist was travelling downhill at approximately 18mph when he entered an underpass that had been allowed to fall into such a poor state of repair that the paving slabs had become separated and tilted upwards. As a result of this, our client’s front wheel became stuck in the slabs, which caused his bike to come to a sudden halt and propelled him over the handlebars and onto the ground with such force that he suffered catastrophic head injuries, including a scalp hematoma which necessitated him having part of his skull removed. His injuries are life-changing and mean that the value of his traumatic brain injury claim is in the region of seven figures.
In the second case, the cyclist was riding an electric bike on a main road when he was hit by a car whose driver had pulled out from a side-street without first checking that it was clear to do so. The force of the impact threw our client to the ground, causing him to sustain multiple serious injuries – including a bleed on the brain and several leg fractures. Although badly hurt, our client has made a remarkable recovery and is now pursuing a compensation claim worth around a six figure settlement.
In both cases, primary responsibility for the accidents occurring undoubtedly lay with the local authority and negligent car driver. However, attempts are being made by their respective insurers to reduce the amount of compensation they need to pay, on the basis that the severity of the clients’ injuries were down to their own decisions to ride without wearing a suitable cycling helmet.
In the second case, there was also an initial attempt to say that our client had not taken reasonable steps to make himself visible to other road users, as he was in dark clothing and with no lights before sunrise. However, we were quickly able to disprove this assertion by establishing that on the date in question sunrise happened an hour before the accident occurred.
Cycle helmets and accident compensation
On the point about our clients’ failure to wear a helmet, our position is that under current UK law there is no legal requirement for helmets to be worn and there is also a lack of consensus among experts as to whether wearing a helmet in any event always reduces the risk of serious injury being suffered.
Indeed, a review of published research on this issue carried out by our own expert suggests that helmets are only effective in preventing or reducing the severity of injuries which are sustained in low-speed accidents, and that they have little or no effect in reducing certain types of severe head injuries, including skull fractures, frontal contusions and generalised brain swelling.
Getting compensation for a cycling claim
In every complex and contested cycling accident case that we deal with, it is our intention to push for the highest compensation payout that we can achieve – subject, perhaps, to a minimal deduction where a client’s actions are found, without question, to have contributed to their injuries.
In the cycling cases we are currently dealing with, we have already managed to secure an interim payment for the second client, which has enabled him to cope financially while out of work. We have also arranged for a case manager to be appointed, who has helped the client to move from his flat into a bungalow. The case manager is also supporting him in managing his hospital appointments and gaining access to the further treatment he requires.
Discuss your cycling claim
If you would like to find out more about our Personal Injury department, or are interested in making an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss your own cycling claim, then please get in touch with Navdip Gill by calling 01908 689338 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org