The 2018 Tour de France pulled in thousands of cycling new fans after Geraint Thomas became the third British winner of the famed long-distance cycling race. Helped by teammate Chris Froome, his victory adds to the explosion of interest in pedal power since the London Olympics. Indeed, official figures reveal that more than three million of us are heading out on our bicycles at least once a month.
As the interest in cycling has increased so too has the number of accidents. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, there are over 18,000 reported incidents involving cyclists each year, with the actual number believed to be double this when unreported accidents are factored in.
Victoria Roberts, personal injury lawyer with Malcolm C Foy & Co Limited in Rotherham, explains why cyclists are so at risk and what you should do to pursue a claim for compensation if you have had an accident.
Why are cyclists particularly vulnerable?
High volumes of traffic combined with excessive speed and the behaviour of some motorists conspire to make cycling a potentially dangerous activity. Cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users because of their limited ability to shield themselves from the risk of harm and their consequent exposure to serious injury in an accident.
What sort of things cause accidents involving cyclists?
Common reasons include:
- vehicles turning into the path of a cyclist;
- pedestrians stepping out in front of cyclists;
- drivers of larger vehicles not giving way;
- cyclists being clipped by a vehicle not leaving enough room for them to pass safely;
- car doors being opened without looking; and
What to do immediately after an accident
It is important to stay calm and take the following action:
- the police should be called if someone has been injured;
- any witnesses should be asked for their details so that your solicitor can contact them;
- check whether any passing motorists managed to capture the accident on their dash cam;
- get the name, address and insurance details of the motorists involved, along with the registration number of their vehicles;
- take photographs of the scene of the accident and in particular of all vehicles, the position of your bike and any damage or skid marks; and
- if a pothole caused or contributed to the accident, report it on Cycling UK’s Fill that Hole [www.fillthathole.org.uk], which will then alert the local council.
The sooner you speak to a solicitor the easier it will be for them to gather the evidence they need for your case. This includes obtaining a copy of any police reports and preparing witness statements while events are still fresh in everyone’s minds. They will also catalogue any injuries you have suffered and help you to access any treatment or rehabilitation services.
Your solicitor will deal with any attempt by the other person’s insurers to avoid settling your compensation claim. This could include allegations that the accident would not have happened if you had been wearing high-visibility clothing, or that you would have suffered no injury - or a less severe one - if you had been wearing a properly fitting helmet.
What can you claim compensation for?
This depends on how the accident occurred and the extent of your injuries. As well as compensation for the injury itself, it might be possible to claim compensation for lost earnings if you have had to take time off work, the cost of private medical treatment or rehabilitation and a payment to cover the value of help or care provided to you by family or friends. A claim will also usually be possible to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your bike and damaged clothing and accessories.
Funding your claim
Although no amount of money can take away the traumatic experience you have been through, compensation can make life easier. In addition, if you were injured within the last three years in an accident for which you were not to blame, it is usually possible to fund your claim under a conditional fee arrangement. This means that you will not need to pay a fee unless your claim for compensation is successful.
With our help you could be back on your bike sooner than you think.
For help in making a claim following a cycling accident, or for any other personal injury matter, please contact Victoria Roberts on 01709 836866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.06.03.19