"80% of cycling accidents occur in daylight." source: RoSPA

Cycling Accidents

Whether you are a commuter on a folding bike, a responsible parent taking your kids to school on a trailer bike, someone free-riding or mountain biking around the countryside of the UK, or a MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) thinking you are Vincenzo Nibali fighting his way up the Monte Zoncolan, we are all as vulnerable as each other when we are on the open road.

Statistics suggest that as a cyclist you are at no greater risk of being involved in an accident than your motor powered counterparts. Unfortunately, when we are involved in accidents because of the limited protection afforded by lycra or jeans, the effects of that accident can be all the greater.

At NewLaw we have years of experience in dealing with cycling accidents, whether caused by vehicles, holes in the road, diesel spills or other hazards that may arise. Our expert cycling accident solicitors manage the most serious of cases, including brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation, multiple fractures and fatalities. It is imperative that you seek advice from a specialist solicitor if you or a loved one ever have the misfortune of being involved in a cycling accident.

This is a guide aimed at giving you some helpful hints on how to deal with accidents if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in one, or know someone who is.

What are the difficulties faced by cyclists?

Motor accidents  
When it comes to motor accidents, prevention is always better than cure. We always recommend that when riding at night that you dress up as brightly as possible, using hi-visibility reflective clothing and use at least two lights, one on permanently, the other flashing, which will make you more visible to other road users. 

We all seem to have camera phones nowadays. Hopefully your injuries will be minor and you will be able to take photographs showing the accident scene.  

Many riders now ride with helmet cameras in place. These have the additional advantage of filming the run-up to the accident and possibly even the accident itself. Again, if the accident has been recorded ensure that you save it and that the time and date are shown.

Finally, if there are any injuries, or if the other driver fails to stop or provide their insurance details, then the matter should be reported to the police. 

Highway accidents
There is always something on the news with regards to funding cuts for road repairs, and there has been much criticism of the state of the U.K.'s highways. If you are unlucky enough to suffer an injury because of a pot hole or other defect, then the good news is that if you suffer loss or damage as a result of a pot hole and can show this was as a result of the highway authority’s failure to maintain the highway, the council will be liable to you for that loss. 

However, in order to be liable you must prove that the pothole was of sufficient size to merit the council’s intervention (usually assessed at 1 inch/2.5 cm). The council can avoid liability if they can show that they have a reasonable system of inspection in place and that the defect did not show up on the last inspection. The frequency of inspection will vary according to the type and location of road involved. 

Diesel spills
Most cyclists think that if their accident was caused by a diesel spill, no one else is to blame and that they are unable to claim compensation for their injuries. This is not true.

Cyclists injured as a result of losing control on diesel or oil spills are entitled to compensation, if it can be shown that the negligence of another or an untraced road user led to the spill being on the road. Frequently, spills are caused as a result of overfilling (also called necking) a fuel tank, or by failing to properly secure the petrol cap. 

Diesel spills account for hundreds of cycle accidents every year, and are a significant danger. Unfortunately, they are becoming more common in rural areas, as commercial vehicles take alternative routes through narrow country lanes to avoid the congestion on main roads and motorways. The majority of spills tend to be found on sharp bends, which is a particular worry in winding country lanes.

How diesel spills can impact a cyclist
Diesel is a particularly dangerous substance as it is difficult to detect on the roads, rather like black ice. Rainfall makes the problem worse, as the diesel floats to the surface, causing cyclists to lose control. Diesel can remain on the road surface for several weeks, often only reappearing following rainfall.

NewLaw can help you claim for compensation if you are the victim of a diesel spill accident. 

Just because you have established that the other driver or local authority is negligent for causing your cycling accident, it does not mean that you can be complacent. Speed is usually unlikely to be an issue. However, you may find you are asked to take some of the blame if you fail to wear a helmet and suffer a head injury. For this argument to apply, the defendant would need to show that had you been wearing a helmet your injuries would have been reduced.

Animal claims
Those that cycle in the countryside will be all too familiar with the sudden presence of animals on the highway, whether it’s a loose horse, wandering cow or an excitable dog running in front of your bike. 

Unfortunately, the unpredictable nature of animals can all too often result in a collision. Whilst the presence of the animal alone is not sufficient to win your claim, if the person responsible for that animal has been negligent in allowing the animal to stray, then they could be considered liable for your losses. It is always advisable to report the incident to the local Police and obtain the animal’s owners details where possible. 

What to do if you have a cycling accident:

  • where possible try to get details of any witnesses to the accident
  • take pictures (especially if you have a mobile phone) of the accident area
  • take pictures of your injuries
  • get medical advice as soon as possible 
  • ensure your medical treatment is documented 
  • make use of any voice recorders on your phone, as you may be able to record contemporary statements given by others at the scene, which can be highly beneficial

This information can help with your case against the person who may have caused this accident.

How can claiming for compensation help me?
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision then you may be able to make a claim to help fund your subsequent treatment. However you will need to show that someone else was at fault for causing those injuries.

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