Can I claim if I was partly responsible for my cycling accident?
Even though you may have been partly to blame for your cycling accident, you can often still claim compensation. How the claim may be assessed and dealt with is outlined here.
The impact of contributory negligence
In any personal injury claim, the Court must establish who is liable for the accident or injury in order to calculate compensation. This can be complicated if both the Claimant or the Defendant are partly to blame.
In the case of cycling accidents, the Claimant may sometimes be found partly liable for his own injuries. Examples of this include:
- If you were cycling without a helmet, and sustained a head injury that could have been prevented or less severe if you had been wearing a helmet.
- If you were hit by a vehicle at night, but your bicycle did not have adequate lights and was therefore harder to see.
- If both parties failed to observe road traffic signals, and a collision occurs.
If it is established that your accident or injuries occurred partly as a consequence of your actions, this is referred to as 'contributory negligence'.In this situation, the Court might decide to allocate some of the liability to you, the Claimant, rather than wholly on the Defendant.
How will my compensation be calculated if there is contributory negligence?
Once the Court has decided that there is contributory negligence, the Court will determine the level of blame to be placed on each party.
For example if the Court decides that if you had been fully visible whilst cycling at night there would only have been a 25% chance of the accident occurring, then it will determine that you were 75% to blame for the accident as your cycle was not adequately lit.
This means that you would only receive 25% of the award that would have been due had the Defendant been entirely to blame.
Why does the Defendant now deny complete responsibility for the accident?
You may find that some Defendants immediately admit liability for an accident - even though most insurance companies urge their clients never to do so.
Thinking that liability has been admitted and agreed you may neglect to gather any evidence to support a future claim, but later - once the case starts - find that the Defendant has withdrawn his admission of total liability.
We would advise anyone involved in a cycling accident to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident, and as soon as possible after the accident - regardless of whether the Defendant admits liability or not.
- Take photographs of the vehicles involved and the surrounding area, plus any of the damage to your cycle and your injuries.
- If there are witnesses, make sure you obtain their names and contact details.
- Make an appointment with your GP or the hospital to have your injuries treated.
- Do not throw out your bike, helmet or other equipment, even if they are badly damaged, as their condition and the nature of the damage sustained may support your version of events.
This factual documentation will help your solicitor pursue your claim for compensation, giving your claim the best chance of success.