I don’t know who's to blame. Can I still claim injury compensation?
If you've been injured in a cycling accident and you're unsure who is responsible, you may still be able to make a claim for compensation.
In order to make a compensation claim, it is necessary to establish that another party is legally responsible (liable) for your injuries.
Establishing liability for a cycling accident can be a complex process and it will depend on the circumstances of the accident.
In some cases, liability may be clear-cut. For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits a cyclist in the process, it is likely that the driver will be found to be at fault.
Liability may be harder to ascertain if an unknown person caused the accident, for example where a negligent driver flees the scene. Another scenario is where more than one person is to blame, perhaps where the cyclist also behaved irresponsibly or did something that contributed to their injuries.
When seeking to establish liability, a personal injury solicitor will gather as much evidence as possible, including witness statements, photos and CCTV footage. A medical assessment will determine the extent of the injuries and their impact on the cyclist's life.
Liability is then established based on the balance of probabilities, which means that the party who is more likely to have caused the accident will be held responsible.
What if the other party is untraceable?
It is still possible to make a claim even if the other party cannot be identified, in a hit-and-run accident for example.
Your solicitor will work with the police to identify the person responsible where possible. If the driver or other road user is located and they have a valid insurance policy, then a claim can be made as against the driver's insurance company.
If the negligent party cannot be traced or they are uninsured, then it may be possible to make a claim through the Motor Insurers' Bureau.
Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB)
The Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) is a non-profit organisation established in the UK to compensate victims of accidents caused by uninsured or untraced motorists. The MIB was set up to ensure that victims of accidents involving uninsured or untraced drivers would not be left without any financial compensation. The MIB is funded by the motor insurance industry, and its activities are regulated by the UK government.
What if I was partly to blame for the accident?
Contributory negligence is the term used to describe when a claimant is partly at fault for their own injuries.
If a cyclist is involved in an accident with a motorist and is not wearing a helmet, for example, the motorist's insurance company may argue that the cyclist was partially responsible for their injuries because they did not take reasonable precautions to protect themselves.
Other examples of contributory negligence might be when a cyclist is injured when running a red light, being distracted by adjusting a fitness tracker, or when wearing headphones.
In such cases, the amount of compensation that the cyclist can recover may be reduced to reflect their level of contribution to the accident. This reduction is typically determined by a court and is based on the degree to which the cyclist's actions contributed to their injuries (apportionment of blame).
If a cyclist is found to be partially responsible for their injuries, they may receive a reduced amount of compensation. For example, if a driver is found to be 60% responsible for a collision and a cyclist 40% responsible, the cyclist will receive 60% of the compensation they would otherwise have received.
Even if a cyclist did not contribute to the event that caused their injury, they may still be found to have contributed to their injuries if they failed to take steps to avoid harm, such as not wearing a helmet.
Split liability agreement
A split liability agreement is a legal arrangement between parties involved in an accident in which each party accepts responsibility for a portion of the damages. In cases where both parties have contributed to an accident, the parties and their insurers may negotiate a settlement in which each party accepts a percentage of the blame, known as a split liability agreement.
Split liability agreements can help avoid lengthy legal proceedings and ensure that each party pays a fair amount towards the damages.