Bicycle Injury Claims Guide
Bicycle Injury Claims Guide
The major difference for a solicitor between handling bicycle injury claims for compensation and those in other forms of personal injury claim is that the victim in a bicycle accident is often more seriously injured and bicycle injury claims for compensation can frequently result in significant compensation settlements. Cyclists are far more exposed to the risk of injury, and the high ratio of injured cyclists to other road users is testament to just how vulnerable they are.
This bicycle injury claims guide aims to be as comprehensive as possible, but is no substitute for discussing your own personal circumstances with a personal injury solicitor when you have been injured in a bicycle accident for which you were not entirely at fault. Details of how you can speak with a bicycle injury claims expert about your entitlement to bicycle injury claims are at the foot of the page.
An Introduction to Bicycle Injury Claims
In all bicycle injury claims for compensation, it has to be shown that the claimant has suffered a quantifiable loss or injury (physical and/or emotional) due to the negligence of a third party. That third party could be another road user, the local authority responsible for maintaining the roads in a safe condition or a utility company who has dug up the road with insufficient warning signs of a hazard.
Bicycle injury claims are made against the negligent party´s insurance company, and usually only require litigation in court when liability is disputed or when the two parties cannot negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Because of their experience of handling bicycle injury claims and assessing the true value of compensation, it is recommended that you always seek the advice of an expert injury claims solicitor.
Causes of Bicycle Injury
Each year the Department for Transport publishes a report which gives a breakdown of the accidents on UK roads by classification of road user. The Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) then analyses this publication to ascertain the causes of bicycle injury in the UK. In 2010, 84% of fatal bicycle fatalities were attributable to a collision with a motorised vehicle, with the majority reason behind these collisions reported by police as “SMIDSY” accidents (“Sorry mate, I didn´t see you).
Inasmuch as collisions with vehicles are the commonest reason for bicycle injury claims, there are also many other accidents which occur on the UK roads which are not attributable to other road users:-
- Poorly Maintained Road Surfaces – A local authority does not have an “absolute” duty of care to maintain its roads in safe condition, but when there are potholes which have been deteriorating for a long period of time, or damaged surfaces which have been reported to the local authority and ignored, you are entitled to make bicycle injury claims should you be injured in an encounter with a hazard that should have been repaired.
- Utility Company Hazards – Utility companies are frequently digging up roads and, during times of roadworks, a suitable thoroughfare should be left for cyclists. Warning signs and lights should also identify the hazard so that a cyclist is unlikely to collide with the barriers surrounding a hole in the ground and, when the work is completed, the road surface should be left in a manner which is safe for cyclists.
- Mechanical Malfunction – Mechanical malfunctions are an extremely rare cause of bicycle injury claims but they still do happen. For example, if you have recently had your bicycle serviced, and suffer an injury due to losing control of your bicycle due to ineffective steering, failed brakes or a snapped chain, you are entitled to make bicycle injury claims for compensation against the individual or shop who serviced your bicycle.
- Diesel Spills – Diesel spills occur when a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle has developed a leak in a fuel line or the driver has overfilled their vehicle and not replaced the fuel cap properly. Diesel spills originate from vehicles more likely to share the nearside lane with cyclists and although the identity of a negligent vehicle driver may never be determined bicycle injury claims in these circumstances can be made against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau.
Prioritise Your Health after an Accident
More important than making bicycle injury claims after an accident is that you prioritise your health. Immediately after a minor physical injury has been sustained, it is often the case that a rush of adrenaline masks the pain, and cyclists get back on their bicycles to cycle to the nearest hospital for treatment. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your injury, you can only make it worse by getting back on your bicycle and not only will this have a detrimental effect on your health, but give cause for the negligent party to later claim that you contributed to your injuries by your own lack of care – thus reducing the amount of compensation you receive in any subsequent bicycle injury claims.
In serious injuries, the police and an ambulance will be called. The police will start their own investigation into how the accident occurred and, if you are not too badly injured, you should make sure that you get your side of the story across. The police report made after any accident can be crucial in establishing negligence for bicycle injury claims.
Make a Report to the Authorities
If the police have not attended the scene of your accident, once you have received medical treatment you should visit your local police station and make a road traffic accident report yourself. Your report should include details - if you have them - of the negligent driver´s registration number, the make and model of his vehicle, insurance details and contact telephone number.
You should also include in your report to the police details of any witnesses who may have seen your accident, the road and weather conditions and what injuries were sustained. If you have a camera facility on your mobile phone and had the presence of mind to take pictures at the time of your accident, it will also help to submit these, and often a visit back to the scene of your accident can refresh your memory of details you may have forgotten in your rush to seek medical attention.
Accidents which are caused by poorly maintained road surfaces and utility company hazards should also be reported to the responsible authority, and copies kept of any correspondence (including your report made at the police station) to support any bicycle injury claims for compensation. Once these formalities have been taken care of, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.
Discuss Bicycle Injury Claims with a Solicitor
There is a very good reason to contact a solicitor as soon as possible when you have been injured in a bicycle accident for which you were not to blame – third party capture. Third party capture is the act of the negligent party´s insurance company contacting you after an accident with an offer of early settlement. Once their client has advised them that he has been responsible for an accident from which a bicycle injury claim may originate, it is likely that they will try to tempt you with an inappropriate offer of bicycle injury compensation.
Although their approach may be welcome at a time when you are still suffering the effects of your injury, and possibly concerned about long-term finances if your injury is particularly serious, bicycle injury claims should also be assessed by a solicitor in order that they can tell you what constitutes a fair and adequate settlement. A solicitor will also be able to assist you with some of the other issues which may affect bicycle injury claims for compensation.
Bicycle Injury Claims and the Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations is a law which limits the time available in which to make bicycle injury claims once the injury party is aware that they have sustained an injury. Whereas most bicycle injuries will be apparent at the time of the accident, there are some scenarios – a head injury for example – where the injury may not be diagnosed for some time after the event.
Injured parties therefore have three years from the “date of knowledge” that an injury has been sustained in which to make bicycle injury claims. Exceptions exist – particularly in the case of an injury to a child, who has three years from their eighteenth birthday in which to make a claim for bicycle injury compensation – but it is virtually impossible to process bicycle injury claims once the Statute of Limitations has expired.
Bicycle Injury Claims and Children
Children who are injured in accidents for which they are not at fault do not have to wait until their eighteenth birthdays to make bicycle injury claims. In most cases it is advisable to make bicycle injury claims as soon after the event as possible, to ensure that evidence does not become corrupt and while the events of the accident are still fresh in the memories of witnesses. A claim for bicycle injury compensation can be made by a parent or guardian at any time acting as a litigation friend on behalf of the child.
All compensation settlements for bicycle injury claims which involve children have to be approved in court before payment can be made, and frequently a judge will order that payment of compensation made to the court where it is held until the child´s eighteenth birthday – allowing only funds to be released for justifiable education and care requirements.
Get Free Advice on Bicycle Injury Claims
If you, your child, or somebody close to you has sustained an injury in a bicycle accident for which you were not entirely at fault, you are invited to speak with a solicitor on our freephone injury claims advice service and discuss your entitlement to make bicycle injury compensation claims. Our solicitors have many years experience in helping clients receive a full and adequate compensation settlement for bicycle injury claims and will be able to answer any questions you may have in this respect.
By using our service, you are not obligated to proceed with a bicycle injury claim for compensation and no pressure will be put on you to do so. We offer a full assessment of your claim, can advise you as to whether you qualify for “No Win, No Fee” legal representation and provide you with practical and impartial advice about how much compensation you may be entitled to receive. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to offer you a professional and courteous service in plain English.