The law expects motorists to drive with ‘due care and attention’, and also recognises the fact that cyclists are more vulnerable in the case of an accident than those driving vehicles, for obvious reasons. Careless driving may involve a motorist being distracted while talking on a mobile phone, or simply not paying proper attention to the road in front of them. They may cut corners, overtake dangerously, fail to look before pulling out at junctions, turn corners without indicating, or otherwise drive erratically. Any such behaviour can result in a collision with a cyclist and a claim being made against the motorist.
Accidents commonly occur at junctions and in front of property driveways, both places where motorists may pull out in front of cyclists unexpectedly. It only takes the smallest of nudges from a vehicle to cause very serious accidents, with cyclists often being thrown through the air, landing on hard surfaces, and their bicycles being damaged beyond repair. In some cases, a motorist will drive off without exchanging details with the cyclist with whom they have collided, however, compensation will still be available from the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), the government body set up to compensate the victims of untraced drivers.
Roundabouts and traffic lights are common locations for accidents involving motorists and cyclists, and as long as it is possible to show that a motorist was not driving with due care and attention at the time, they will be held legally liable for the accident. Motorists often fail to notice cyclists, which may be the result of lack of attention, obstructed visibility due to congestion or bad weather, the layout of the roundabout or junction, adverse weather conditions, excess speed or careless driving.
As with all road traffic accidents, liability will sometimes be split, with both parties in some measure to blame for the incident, although generally the motorist involved will be obliged to prove that they were not responsible, reflecting the relative lack of protection that a bicycle affords its rider in the event of a collision with a motorist.
In the aftermath of a collision with a motor vehicle, a cyclist should try to obtain both the motorist’s details and those of any witnesses. Mobile phone photos of the scene of the accident, the cyclist’s injuries and the damage done to their bicycle can all later prove useful in support of a claim. Compensation will be paid out for physical injury, mental trauma, damage to property, the cost of medical treatment and loss of earnings due to time off work. The burden of proof will be on the motorist rather than the cyclist to prove they were not to blame for an accident, the reason why many claims are successful.
Can A Cyclist Sue An Unidentified Motorist?
Our client was a cyclist who suffered a serious back injury after he was knocked off his bike by a motorist and later successfully claimed £60,000 in compensation. Mr F was cycling along a city road when a car pulled out in front of him from a side street. He was unable to brake in time to avoid a collision, and was sent flying over the bike’s handlebars, landing 10 feet away on the tarmac road surface.
Mr F was in severe pain and couldn’t move following the accident. An ambulance was called to take him to hospital, where an X-ray showed that he had sustained a fracture to his lower spine. He was unable to return to work for three months after the accident, during which time he was in continual pain and discomfort.
Mr F got in touch with Bartletts Solicitors after reading about a case we had previously handled involving similar circumstances to his own. We agreed to represent him on a No Win No Fee basis in a personal injury claim against the motorist in question. Fortunately in this case, a van driver who was behind Mr F’s bike at the time had dashcam footage that was important in establishing the circumstances of the accident. We were also able to obtain the vehicle’s registration number after requesting the police incident report, and were therefore able to submit our client’s claim to the motorist’s insurers relatively quickly.
Mr F experienced ongoing pain and weakness in his lower back following the accident, and had also lost a considerable sum in earnings during his enforced time off work. Within a few months of starting the claim, the insurer’s accepted full liability for the accident, and Mr F received a sum in compensation which he was ultimately satisfied with.