Smith v Finch [2009] All ER 158

The claimant sustained a serious traumatic brain injury when he was knocked off his pedal bike by a motorcycle.

The defendant argued, inter alia, that the claimant was at fault and partly to blame for his brain damage due to his failure to wear a cycle helmet.

On the facts of the case it was held that no deduction to the claimant's damages should be made as the defendant had failed to prove that a helmet would have made any difference to the claimant's injuries.

In passing comments, however, Griffith Williams J suggested that whilst there is no legal compulsion for a cyclist to wear a helmet there is no doubt that the failure to wear a helmet may expose the cyclist to the risk of greater injury. Subject to issues of causation any injury sustained may be the cyclist's own fault and he only has himself to thank for the consequences. Whilst this Judgment raises issues of freedom of choice - and has caused discourse within the cycling community - it does pave the path for future contributory negligence arguments.