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Serious accident claims involving cyclists on the rise

September 1st 2020

Thinking it over with Carol Fish Director & Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury…

A RISE in accident claims involving cyclists has been the downside of a welcome increase in the amount of people taking to two wheels during the Covid pandemic.

Across the board, we’ve seen an overall decline in general claims relating to various types of accidents, which busts the myth that we have a compensation culture. We don’t.

But the rise in claims involving cyclists is a timely reminder that we need to do more to protect each other and prevent serious, catastrophic, or even fatal, injury on our roads.

Cycling has understandably continued to grow in popularity, and given the beautiful countryside we have in Cumbria, The Lake District, and Northumberland, it’s hardly surprising.

But we need to do more to keep each other safe on our roads.

Head injuries are one of the main types of injuries from accidents involving cyclists.

Yet it might surprise you to know, given the dangers involved and how vulnerable cyclists are, that while wearing a helmet is strongly advised for cyclists, it is not compulsory by law.

As a Director and Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, I have dealt with some tragic cases involving cyclists suffering serious brain injuries.

And the thing about a brain injury is that it does not take a big knock to have a devastating effect and serious long-term consequences.

Head injury is often seen as a hidden injury as it is not always as obvious as a broken bone. An injury affecting your frontal lobe can alter your personality and mood.

It is difficult for relatives to adjust to their loved one not being the same person anymore. The change of personality and mood swings can lead to marital breakdowns.

Cyclists may think that if they’re not wearing a helmet and they are the victim of an accident they can’t make a claim. That is not true.

It clearly makes sense to wear a helmet to reduce your chance of suffering a serious or catastrophic injury.

But the other side in the case would have to prove that not wearing a helmet was a contributory factor to the injuries by way of medical evidence.

Every case is different. But a rule of thumb would be that you would be looking at a maximum reduction of 25% to damages where it is proved that wearing a helmet would have prevented the injury completely and 15% where a helmet would have significantly reduced the severity of the injury.

I would urge all road users to be safety conscious and safety aware. From a cyclists point of view it’s about thinking about how you stay safe before you get on your bike.

From a car driver’s perspective it’s all about being aware and considerate and giving cyclists enough space.

A momentary lapse of concentration, getting impatient or road rage, can lead to a lifetime of regret.

It’s a similar story for motorcyclists. Like all road users, there are plenty of sensible motorcyclists out there who take their safety, and that of other road users, extremely seriously.

Some motorcyclists, however, do take risks. Yet it only takes a momentary lapse of concentration to wipe you out. Riders often part company with their bike as well, and with little protection. I have dealt with horrific injuries and even fatalities.

Car drivers need to be aware of motorcyclists. In recent surveys a high proportion of drivers admitted being distracted by gadgets.

You don’t have to look far to see people flouting the law when it comes to using their mobile phones while driving, Sadly that is also an accident waiting to happen…

To contact Carol please call 01228 585245

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