Cycling to work or cycling for pleasure can be one of the most beneficial activities for your health and well-being. It does, of course, carry risks and if you're unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, it pays to know the questions to ask and the process to follow, so that compensation will be more likely.
The benefits of cycling
In November 2012, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence (NICE) issued guidance on walking and cycling.
The report lists the benefits as including:-
- Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Keeping the musculoskeletal system healthy
- Promoting mental wellbeing
- Reducing car travel, leading to reductions in air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions and congestion
- Reducing road danger and noise
- Increasing the number of people of all ages who are out on the streets, making public spaces seem more welcoming and providing opportunities for social interaction
- Providing an opportunity for everyone, including people with an impairment, to participate in and enjoy the outdoor environment.
The report lists various recommendations to increase the number of people cycling.
The cultural change
Over the past ten years I have seen the streets and roads of London change as the number of cyclists has substantially increased. When I first started full-time work over 20 years ago I cannot remember any of my colleagues cycling into work but now things have changed and many do. The Mayor has introduced his cycle hire scheme and one cannot walk around the city without noticing the ‘Boris Bikes’ on the roads or in their stations waiting to be hired. The Boris Bikes have meant that those who travel into London are able to access to a bicycle at reasonable hire charge.
Frequency of accidents
There is no doubt about the health benefits of cycling. Sadly, as personal injury lawyers, we see the bleak outcome of cycling accidents. This is not to dispute the health benefits of cycling but they provide pause for thought.
In July this year, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) published a factsheet about cycling injuries. In 2011 a staggering 19,000 cyclists were injured with over 3,000 seriously injured or killed. These figures only reflect on the number of accidents that are reported to the Police and therefore, there are likely to be many more accidents than accounted for in these figures. If you are a male cyclist you are more likely to have an accident as four out of five casualties involve a man. Almost two thirds of cyclists killed or seriously injured were involved in collisions at, or near, a road junction, with T-junctions being the most commonly involved. Roundabouts are particularly dangerous junctions for cyclists.
Unsurprisingly, accidents involving a motor vehicle occurred because the driver did not look properly and see the cyclist.
Cyclists are particularly at risk from heavy vehicles such as lorries and coaches. In London, 20% of fatalities occur when HGV lorries hit cyclists turning left.
Hospital data reveals that 40% of cyclists suffer a head injury following an accident.
So what do you do if you or your friends/family have been involved in an accident?
- Write down the time and the exact location of where the accident happened. It’s very easy to forget once you have left the scene. If possible, take photos as an aide memoire.
- Obtain the other person’s details. Write down the other person’s name, address, contact telephone number, registration details and ask for the name of the company that insures them.
- If the person is in the course of their employment take down the name of their employer and any passengers who were also in the vehicle.
- In my experience there are usually people that have seen the accident that will stop and help. Obtain the name and contact details of any witnesses as your lawyer or the Police may need to speak with them later.
- If you have suffered an injury or damage to your property make sure that the Police are called and the incident is reported. Obtain the contact details of the officer who is responsible for the investigation of the accident and the crime number which will be allocated to the incident.
- At the earliest available opportunity sit down and write out exactly what happened. Sometimes it is helpful to include a sketch of the road and the position of the vehicles describing what happened. In your personal account of events make sure that you include all the detail that you can remember and include a description of the people involved and any passengers. Be sure to include details such as the road conditions, lighting and any factors such as whether headlights were illuminated or indicators were being used.
- If your property, for example your bike, is damaged make sure that you have evidence about the degree of damage prior to having it repaired. Have the bike inspected and ask for a detailed invoice setting out the level of damage and the repairs that have been carried out. You may wish to also consider obtaining photographs of any damage.
- If you have suffered an injury then it is important that you seek legal advice to determine if you may be entitled to compensation. If you have suffered a serious injury it is essential that you obtain advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor. At Kingsley Napley we are used to dealing with these type of claims.
- Seek legal advice as soon as possible and don’t delay as there are statutory time limits in which you must bring a claim.
- Keep a diary of events that occur following the accident. Include all details about medical treatment that you receive and the names of the doctors that treat you.
- Keep receipts for all expenses. For example, if you are required to travel to appointments by taxi then make sure you keep a copy of all of the receipts. You may be able to claim for additional expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident.