By Lucy Hudson
I often find that many cyclists do not make claims after they’ve had an accident because they worry it will be a lot of hassle for nothing. Even if they’ve sustained significant injuries, this concern can stop them from finding out more.
That’s why I’ve put together this list – to allow for a bit of ‘self-diagnosis’.
If you have been injured in an accident whilst cycling and you meet the following requirements – particularly items 1-4 – then there is a very good chance that looking into a claim will not be a waste of your time! It could even change your life – helping you get back on your bike as soon as possible.
Making a claim can help with:
• Access to rehabilitation
• Repair or replacement of a damaged bike, protective gear, and other items
• Repayment of financial losses, such as lost earnings if you haven’t been able to work because of your injuries
• Redress for the harm you’ve suffered and the injustice done to you
The 5 things which follow are not an exhaustive list. Everyone’s circumstances will be different, so it is always best to speak to a specialist personal injury lawyer if you are in any doubt about anything. At Truth Legal, we never pressure anyone into making a claim – instead we provide guidance to allow people to make an informed decision themselves.
In that spirit, here are my 5 key things you need to make a successful compensation claim after a cycling accident:
1. Someone to claim against
In other words: someone else whom you hold legally responsible for the accident.
Depending on your circumstances, this could be another road user, such a driver, motorcyclist or pedestrian, or it could besomeone responsible for the presence of a hazard on the road. For example, if you hit a pothole, the person or body responsible for maintaining the road (such as Highways England for major roads) could be held liable. Other examples include:
• An animal owner, if their animal got loose and caused your accident
• Someone responsible for creating a spillage on the road
• A local authority, if you came off your bike due to a defective cattle grid
What if I’m partially at fault?
If you think you may have been partially to blame, this does not necessarily stop you from claiming. But the amount of compensation you receive may be reduced to take into account the responsibility you share for the accident.
Likewise, if you were not wearing the correct safety gear, and it is found that your injuries would have been less severe had you done so, compensation is likely to be reduced.
It is always best to speak to a solicitor if you are unsure where you stand. Many, like Truth Legal, will offer free initial consultation sessions.
Hit and run or uninsured motorists
If you were hit by a motorist who left the scene, and you were unable to get their details, it may be possible for you to make a claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). To do so, it is important that you report the matter to the police as soon as possible.
Similarly, the MIB might be able to help if it turns out the motorist who hit you did not have insurance, as long as and the accident occurred on a public road.
2. To have suffered harm from the accident
This might seem obvious, but to claim compensation, you must have incurred some losses or suffered some harm as a result of your accident.
Compensation is intended to put you back into the position you were in before the accident occurred (as far as possible). As such, the more harm you have suffered the more compensation you should be entitled to.
A near miss – whilst often awful in itself – will not give grounds for a compensation claim.
This harm, damage or loss can take many forms after a cycling accident. It might include:
• Physical and psychological injuries
• Lost earnings – due to time you are unable to work
• Treatment and rehabilitation expenses
• Damage sustained to your bike, protective clothing, orpersonal items
Evidence is a vital part of any claim. As soon as possible, and it is safe for you to do so, you should try to collect and keep as much evidence as you can to support a possible claim.
Useful evidence will fall into two broad categories:
1. Evidence which demonstrates the other party was responsible for the accident
2. Evidence which supports the damage and losses the accident has caused you
The first category could include:
• Photographs, showing e.g. the accident location, damage to your bike and any other vehicles, hazards in the road etc.
• CCTV footage
• Witness details
• Police reports
In the second category would be things like:
• Receipts, for e.g. medication, treatment expenses, replacement items damaged in the accident etc.
• Repair estimates
• Payslips demonstrating lost wages
If you do make a claim, evidence of your injuries is obtained through a medical report written by an independent expert who will assess you. Even so, keeping your own record of your injuries and how they progress can be useful.
Whether you are thinking about a claim or not, keeping evidence will be helpful – not least because, if you later change your mind, it may be difficult to secure evidence that much longer after the accident occurred.
If all of this sounds over-facing, don’t worry. Your legal representatives can help you to secure the evidence you need.
4. To claim within 3 years of the accident
The law sets deadlines on when personal injury claims can be made. In most cases, this will be 3 years from the date that the accident occurred. And if you don’t make a claim within this time, you will be prevented from doing so later on.
This time can slip away quickly. So, if you are at all curious about making a claim, speak to a lawyer sooner rather than later.
5. Expert legal representation
In some situations, you might be referred to a particular law firm after you’ve had an accident. This is usually when you have an insurer involved or you are a member of a cycling organisation, as these companies often have agreements with certain law firms.
If this happens to you, remember that you have the right to choose your own solicitors if you want to. It is important that you make your claim with solicitors whom you trust and have the expertise to give you the best chances of success. If you’re happy with them, that’s great. But don’t feel like you can’t instruct another firm if you aren’t satisfied.
Most solicitors will handle claims on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis – which means you don’t pay anything if the claim is unsuccessful – but if you recover compensation, a portion of it (up to 25%) will be used to pay your legal fees.
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