Long before cars were the number one form of transport, people have used bicycles to move from one place to another. Nowadays, bicycles are still a preferred means of transportation for many people, especially in cities where traffic can get pretty chaotic and parking can be limited.
Besides the obvious health benefits, riding a bicycle causes no environmental damage and is the most economical mode of transportation besides walking. Many people of all ages also love cycling as a sporting or leisure activity.
In 2020 alone, the number of bicycles sold in the UK reached an estimated 3.3 million units, a 22% increase in sales since 2019. Between 2017 and 2019, 42% of the overall population of England owned a bicycle, and 83% of children between 5 and 10 years old had their own bike (see stats).
Cyclists are classified as vulnerable road users due to the limited protection while on the bike and the increased risk of casualties compared to vehicle users. Together with pedestrians and motorcyclists, they have a much higher casualty rate per mile travelled compared with other road users.
According to the Department for Transport, there were 17,572 cyclist injuries in Great Britain in 2018, of which 99 were fatal, and 4,033 were severely injured. The most common causes of bicycle accidents are negligent driving by other road users, poor road conditions, equipment failure or lack of bike lanes.
Depending on the impact force, injuries can range from cuts, lacerations and abrasions to severe head and back trauma with catastrophic consequences. Unfortunately, caution and experience can never be enough to protect a cyclist from a road traffic injury.
If you had a cycling accident due to someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to make a bicycle accident claim. You could receive compensation for the pain and suffering you endured, the repairing or replacing of your bike and any other losses you incurred because of the accident.
Do I have a valid bicycle accident claim?
A brief and free of charge consultation with a legal adviser can let you know if you might be able to claim compensation for your bicycle accident. However, you might be eligible to make a claim if:
- You had a bicycle accident in the last three years
- Somebody else breached their duty of care towards you, causing the accident
- You suffered some form of personal injury as a result
If you have a valid claim, your solicitor will guide you through the claiming process, offering support and advice at every step along the way. The first thing you need to secure a successful bicycle accident claim is relevant proof to support your case. This could be:
- Medical records detailing the type of injuries you suffered, the treatments you received, recovery prognosis and any long-term effects.
- A comprehensive report of your injuries, further treatment options and permanent effects on your health. Your solicitor will arrange a free visit with an independent specialist on your behalf.
- Photographs of the accident scene, whether it was a collision with a vehicle or a road defect that caused you to lose control of the bike.
- Pictures of your injuries and any damage to your bicycle or other personal property.
- CCTV recordings, dash cam or helmet cam footage of the accident.
- Contact details of any other road users involved in the accident, and the licence plate and insurance details of drivers.
- Name and details of any witnesses to your bicycle accident.
- Police reports. If someone is injured in an accident, you should report the accident to the authorities within 24 hours.
- A journal with details of how the accident occurred, the injuries you suffered and how they affected your life.
- Receipts for any financial losses you incurred, such as treatment and care costs, damages to your bike or lost wages if you had to take time off work.
Based on the available evidence, your solicitor will try to determine who might be liable for your accident. The responsible party could be:
- Another road user that bumped into you or caused a distraction by acting negligently
- A local council, if your accident was due to poor road conditions
- A manufacturer, if a bicycle or helmet defect caused or aggravated your accident
- Another individual, if you were attacked while riding your bike
After preparing the claim, your solicitor will send a claim notification form (CNF) to the party you hold responsible for your bicycle accident. If they admit liability, you can start negotiating a compensation settlement.
Otherwise, you will have to issue court proceedings and argue your case before a judge. They will assess liability based on the available evidence and witness statements and decide on a suitable compensation award.
What are the main causes of bike accident claims?
Many people choose cycling over motor vehicles when commuting for short distances. Riding a bike is also a very popular leisure and sporting activity. According to statistics, men cycle considerably more than women for all age groups.
Men aged 40 to 49 spend more time on a bike than any other age group, covering an average distance of 160 miles per year, while females of the same age cover 45 miles per year. While cycling is a healthy and sustainable activity, bicycle riders have little protection on the road, especially if there is no designated bike lane.
In 2019 in Britain, there were 47 bicycle accidents every day, amounting to 107 fatalities, 4,470 severe accidents and 12,571 slight injuries during the entire year. If you suffer a bicycle accident without being entirely at fault, you might be able to claim bicycle accident compensation.
The most common causes for making a bike accident claim include:
Another negligent road user
The negligent behaviour of other road users like pedestrians, motorbikes and drivers is the main cause of bicycle accidents. Unfortunately, being hit or falling off your bike can have severe consequences due to the scarce protective equipment. Most of the accidents caused by cars, lorries and buses are as a result of:
- Distracted driving due to using the phone, talking to car passengers or using the GPS rather than paying attention to their surroundings.
- Following cyclists too closely and passing them within less than three feet might create a dangerous situation.
- Speeding and reckless driving, limiting the amount of time they have to make a safe manoeuvre if a cyclist appears on the road.
- Weaving in and out of traffic and unsafe lane changes make it less likely to see cyclists on the road or to avoid them. It also increases the chances of drifting into bike lanes.
- Opening vehicle doors without checking if a cyclist is approaching from behind. Cyclists have little time to react and limited options to avoid an accident if a door opens in front of them.
- Pulling out of a junction right in front of a bicycle often doesn’t give the cyclist time to react in order to avoid a collision.
- Failure to yield to cyclists at roundabouts and road junctions.
- Running a red light or stop sign, ignoring cyclists that have the right of way.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Drowsy driving may also impair reaction times and decrease alertness, in a way similar to driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Turning into the path of a cyclist is among the leading causes of bicycle accidents. This happens when a driver overtakes a bike and slows down to turn, assuming the cyclist has enough time and space to slow down if necessary.
In any of the above circumstances, the vehicle driver is hardly at risk for injury. But on the other hand, a cyclist could suffer the most severe trauma after colliding with a vehicle. Photographs at the accident site, video footage or witness statements can help you make a bicycle accident claim against a negligent driver who caused you an injury.
Poor road conditions
If the road or bike lane is not properly maintained, it can cause a cyclist to lose control of the bicycle and fall or collide with an object. Unsafe road conditions that might cause a bicycle accident include:
- Cracked and uneven pavements
- Wet or slippery roads
- Debris on roads or bike lanes
- Icy roads or bike lanes during winter
- Construction site hazards
- Sewer grates
- Rail tracks
According to statistics from 2015, a total of 47 cyclists were killed or severely injured because of road hazards. Between 2015 and 2020, there were 4,885 casualties that involved no other vehicles, with 2,028 severe injuries and 98 deaths.
The local council is usually responsible for maintaining the roads and bike lanes in safe conditions. When failing to do so, you might be able to make a bicycle accident claim against the local authorities.
The sudden failure of a bicycle part causing an accident is not an uncommon cause for bike claims. Your bicycle relies on many different components operating safely and efficiently. The failure of any component could lead to loss of control and crashing.
Equipment failure can be attributed to manufacturing, design, assembly or maintenance. Professional bike mechanics could also lead to a crash due to careless fitting or failing to diagnose a problem.
If you suffered a bicycle accident due to component failure, you might be able to make a claim against the manufacturer or your bike mechanic. It is essential to take photos at the accident scene and not throw away the faulty part.
While riding a bike, you are also vulnerable to assaults and attacks, especially during the night or on poorly trafficked roads. For example, a pedestrian walking on the bike lane might get angry if you ask them to move out of the way, or you could get robbed while riding your bike in a dangerous neighbourhood.
You could be knocked off your bike whilst being attacked by a dog, or you could suffer a dog bite. If the dog is not on a lead or not under the owner’s control, which resulted in the attack, you could make a bicycle accident claim against them.
If your bicycle accident happened in the last three years and you believe another party was at fault, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you have a valid claim, you might receive compensation for your damages.
What are the most common bicycle accident injuries?
Besides helmets, cyclists don’t enjoy much protection as road users, with a fatality rate very similar to pedestrians. The most common accidents involve falls, while the most severe are crashes with a vehicle. You cannot always avoid an accident, but you can help to minimise the potential risks by:
- Riding a bicycle that fits you; it’s harder to control a bike that is too large or too small for your size.
- Put on a helmet that fits you properly to ensure you get the best protection.
- Wear equipment that makes you more visible to others, such as reflective gear, bright clothes, front and rear white lights and bike reflectors.
- Ride with both hands on the handlebar.
- Make sure your shoelaces or clothing cannot get caught in the bike chain.
- When possible, choose routes with less traffic and always use bike lanes when available.
- Obey the street signs and drive in the same direction as traffic.
- Look ahead for hazards, and don’t listen to loud music on headphones which can distract you and make it difficult to hear oncoming dangers.
Unfortunately, even when taking every precaution, you can still suffer a bicycle accident due to the negligent behaviour of others. Depending on the circumstances and accident type, you might suffer a wide range of injuries, such as:
Road rash is an abrasion caused by friction, very common in bicycle accidents. Bony areas like the knees, elbows, hands and forearms are most likely to be affected, but it could also cover a large area of your body, such as the back.
Mild road rash usually heals within a few weeks without needing medical treatment. More severe wounds might require skin grafting and leave permanent scars on your body.
Cuts and lacerations
If there is an impact with a sharp or pointy surface or object, you might suffer mild to severe cuts or lacerations. While superficial cuts heal quickly, deep lacerations might affect the underlying muscles, tendons or nerves.
Nerve lacerations might require surgical repair and could have long-lasting effects. If you need stitches or staples, these may leave permanent scarring.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains are soft tissue injuries that affect muscles, tendons or ligaments. Both injuries are painful and can cause swelling, tenderness and impaired mobility.
Falling off a bike could cause a ligament sprain on the wrist. Strains usually occur after an impact with a vehicle, which might catapult the cyclist forward, causing the body to twist or stretch. Minor injuries typically heal alone, while the most severe could require surgical repair and physical therapy.
Fractures or joint dislocations
The impact trauma with the ground or a vehicle can be severe enough to cause the bones in a joint to be displaced from their normal position. This can cause intense pain, deformity, stiffness and mobility issues and might lead to permanent joint instability.
Except for helmets, cyclists have little or nothing to protect their faces and body. Impact injuries can result in fractures of any bone, with the most common including the back, arms or legs, ribs, collarbone and facial bones.
You will usually have to wear a cast for a few months, but severe fractures might also need the surgical insertion of plates or metal rods to hold the bone pieces together and take longer to heal.
Back injuries are common in bicycle accidents. While abrasions, bruising and other soft tissue injuries do not usually have long-term effects, trauma to the spine can have dramatic consequences. Spinal fractures can lead to limited mobility and chronic pain, while damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis and loss of bodily functions.
The impact with a motor vehicle can cause the head to get tossed forwards and backwards or from side to side, followed by impact with the ground, a car or another object. This can cause a whiplash injury and damage to muscles, tendons, the spine or even the nerves.
Injuries range from soft tissue sprains, strains, slipped or herniated disks, vertebral fractures or spinal cord damage, depending on the impact force. You could recover in a matter of weeks or suffer permanent nerve damage with catastrophic consequences.
Head and brain injuries
Trauma to the head is one of the most distressing and frightening injuries you can get in an accident. While wearing a helmet can offer extensive protection, head trauma is the most common type of bicycle injury, affecting 40% of adults and 45% of child cyclists.
Head injuries can be superficial cuts and scrapes or severe fractures and concussions. In the most extreme situations, trauma to the head can cause severe brain injuries and even death. Brain injuries can be extremely devastating for the victim and their family. Complications can include paralysis, coma, a vegetative state, motor and cognitive problems.
If you suffered any type of injury due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to claim compensation. To find out if you have a valid bicycle accident claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
How much bicycle accident compensation can I claim?
The amount of compensation you might be entitled to if you have a valid bike accident claim will depend on:
- The type and extent of your injuries
- How your accident affected your life
- Any financial expenses you incurred as a result
- Expected future costs and lost wages
Your medical records are very important when making a bicycle accident claim. Even if you suffer minor or moderate injuries that you think don’t require medical assistance, you should always visit a doctor to prevent further damage and have proof of your trauma.
Your solicitor might also arrange a free medical visit with an independent professional, especially if you have multiple or complex injuries. Their medical report will be essential to assess any long-term or permanent effects that you might receive compensation for.
In any personal injury claim, the compensation award covers:
General damages for all the physical and psychological injuries you incurred because of your accident, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Loss of amenity
- Loss or reduced physical and mental capacity
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of a unique career
- Scarring and disfigurement
Special damages will cover all the present and future economic losses related to your bicycle accident, which could include:
- Costs of current and future medical care
- Lost wages, including future losses if you were not able to return to work
- The cost of repairing or replacing your bicycle
- Damage to any other personal property like a mobile phone or clothes
- Loss of earning capacity
- Modifications to your home or vehicle
- Private treatment
- Costs of care
These are only some examples of special and general damages you could claim compensation for. Depending on the unique circumstances of your accident, you might have suffered other financial and personal losses.
Compensation for general damages is awarded based on the guidelines offered by the Judicial College. According to them, you could get:
- £13,430 to £112,130 for a moderate head injury that might cause epileptic attacks, depression, intellectual impairment or vegetative state.
- £240,590 to £344,640 for a severe head injury causing a severe disability such as brain damage with little or no response, life expectancy less than 15 years, and need for full-time care.
- £26,010 to £38,850 for severe facial injuries resulting in disfigurement, chronic tooth pain or scarring, including damages for mental distress.
- Up to £6,680 for a minor neck injury like whiplash with complete recovery within two years.
- £56,100 to £139,210 for severe neck injuries like partial paraplegia or permanent disability.
- £11,730 to £26,050 for moderate back injuries, including a compressed or fractured spine, prolapsed disks and worsening of a pre-existing condition.
- £36,390 to £151,070 for severe back injuries with spinal cord damage and partial paralysis, impaired movement or loss of bladder or bowel function.
- £16,380 to £40,970 for severe shoulder injuries leading to significant disability.
- £33,430 to £111,690 for severe pelvis and hip fractures resulting in spinal fusion or bowel damage.
- £6,680 to £19,390 for severe body scarring.
- £16,380 to £33,430 for moderate arm injuries with long-lasting symptoms.
- £82,040 to £255,930 for severe arm injuries, including amputation of one or both arms.
- Up to £10,750 for moderate elbow injuries with no permanent damage.
- £20,900 to £51,070 for severe wrist injuries with significant disability or loss of function.
- £15,320 to £46,780 for moderate leg injuries such as severe soft tissue damage or compound fractures causing instability.
- £46,780 to £240,590 for severe leg injuries with permanent reduced mobility or amputation of one or both legs.
- £44,470 to £82,080 for a severe knee injury causing constant pain and severe disability.
- £11,730 to £42,710 for moderate ankle injuries like fractures and ligament tears with increased risk of osteoarthritis.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and give you an estimate of your compensation prospects.
How long do I have to make a bicycle accident claim?
If you had a bicycle accident, it’s always a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced solicitor can let you know if you could claim bike accident compensation and how long you might have to start legal proceedings.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date. If you miss this deadline, your case will become statute-barred, and you will no longer be entitled to compensation. Usually, this will be three years after your accident, but the claim limitation date can vary in certain circumstances, such as:
- When the victim of a bicycle accident is a child, a parent, guardian or another litigation friend can claim compensation at any time before they turn 18. After becoming an adult, if no claim was made in their name, the child victim will have another three years to make a claim.
- There is no limitation date to claim compensation on behalf of an adult who lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a litigation friend can represent a victim suffering from a debilitating condition such as PTSD, bipolar disorder or learning disabilities. The three-year countdown will begin if the victim recovers from their illness or has regained mental capacity.
- You could claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority within two years if you were the victim of a violent attack while riding your bike.
- Due to high stress and adrenaline levels, some injuries might not become immediately apparent after a bicycle accident. In this case, the limitation date to make a claim will be three years after you learned about your injury (e.g. when it was diagnosed by a doctor).
- You can also make a claim for a bike accident that happened abroad. The limitation date differs from country to country, according to their own laws and regulations.
- If a loved one was the victim of a fatal accident, you could claim bicycle accident compensation within three years after the date they passed away.
You should contact an experienced solicitor as soon as possible if you believe someone else is responsible for your bicycle accident. Gathering all the evidence, talking to witnesses and getting an independent medical report is an extensive process. Some solicitors will refuse a case with less than six months left until the claim limitation date, as they may not have sufficient time to process the claim.
Can I make a bike accident claim on behalf of somebody else?
Anybody who suffered a bicycle accident without being at fault might have the right to make a compensation claim for their losses. However, not everyone has the ability to conduct legal proceedings. Children and protected parties will need a litigation friend to represent them in a bike accident claim.
Protected parties are adults who lack the mental capacity to make decisions and conduct legal proceedings due to an impairment or disturbance in the functioning of the mind or brain, such as:
- Mental health conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
- Severe learning disabilities like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or epilepsy
- Brain damage from a stroke or traumatic brain injury
- Neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Other physical or mental conditions causing confusion or drowsiness
You can also act as a litigation friend on behalf of someone with a language barrier. An individual will not be able to conduct legal proceedings if they cannot:
- Understand and remember information about a decision
- Use the available information to make a decision
- Communicate their decision by speech, sign language or in writing
You could also claim bicycle accident compensation on behalf of a close family member who passed away.
To become a litigation friend, you will need to compile a certificate of suitability, stating you can represent the victim fairly and competently without any conflict of interest. You will also have to fill in a certificate of service that will prove to the court that the victim agrees to have you as a litigation friend.
If you assume the role of a litigation friend, you will have many responsibilities, such as:
- Read and sign legal documents
- Make decisions about the claim
- Attend court hearings if necessary
- Keep updated on court proceedings
- Regularly consult with the legal adviser
- Keep the victim informed on any developments
- Give directions to solicitors and consider compensation offers
- Pay any fees required by the court
If you manage to secure compensation on behalf of a child, you will not be able to access the payment. Instead, the money will be kept in a court bank account where it will gain interest until the child turns 18, at which point they will receive the full amount by cheque. You can petition for early release if you need to cover medical or educational charges that can’t be paid otherwise.
Your role as litigation friend ends:
- When a child turns 18
- If a protected party regains mental capacity
- When the claim comes to an end
- If you petition the court for a replacement on valid grounds
How much will it cost to claim for a bike accident?
As vulnerable road users, cyclists are at risk for severe injury in an accident. If the accident was due to the negligence of another party, you might be wondering if you can claim compensation from the responsible party and how much this could cost you.
A free consultation with a legal adviser can let you know if you have a valid bicycle accident claim and who might be liable for compensation. If your case seems solid, they will represent you without asking for any upfront charges.
Known as a no win no fee claim, this is the preferred way of funding a personal injury claim. The agreement between you and your legal adviser is that you will pay no solicitor fees unless you receive compensation. Otherwise, you will not have to cover any fees or hidden charges.
At the beginning of your bike accident claim, your solicitor will purchase After the Event (ATE) insurance on your behalf. This will cover any legal costs incurred during the claiming process if you do not win the case.
If your claim is successful, most legal costs will be recovered from the defendant. You will only have to pay the success fee to cover the services provided by your solicitor, and you will agree upon it at the beginning of your claim. In any case, the success fee cannot exceed 25% of the compensation award.
Having an expert solicitor to represent you in a bicycle accident claim is a great asset to increase your chances of success. They will help gather evidence, talk to witnesses, arrange a free medical visit on your behalf and take care of all the required paperwork.
A solicitor will offer advice and support at every step throughout the claim. They will contact the party you hold liable for your injuries, calculate a suitable compensation amount for the damages you incurred and negotiate your award with the defendant.
Usually, it will be the defendant’s insurance company that pays the compensation. They will try to offer the lowest amount possible, but your claim might be worth much more. Solicitors are experts at dealing with insurance companies and will use their skills and knowledge to secure the maximum compensation amount that you are entitled to receive.
With a no win no fee agreement, you know that your legal adviser is not wasting your time and money. They would not take on your case unless you have a fair chance of success. If you do not receive compensation, you will not pay a penny.
Can I claim for a hit and run bicycle accident?
A bicycle accident can be very traumatic for you and your loved ones. If you did nothing wrong and still got injured, you might be frustrated and want to claim compensation from the responsible party. If the other vehicle fails to stop, you might feel even more worried and confused.
If you are involved in a hit and run accident, you should:
- Get immediate medical assistance if you are severely hurt
- Report the accident to the police and wait for them to arrive
- Try to get the driver’s license plate or the colour and model of their vehicle
- Take photographs of the bicycle damage and any injuries you suffered
- Ask for help from any witnesses present at the accident scene
The police will try to find the hit and run driver. If they can’t be located or are uninsured, you could still make a bicycle accident claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
The MIB is an independent organisation that pays compensation to victims of drivers who should have had compulsory motor insurance. The MIB will pay compensation for property damage, injuries and death arising from a hit and run or an accident with an uninsured driver.
The MIB will investigate your case; if they decide the hit and run driver is liable for your injuries, they will pay compensation like any other insurance company.
Can I still claim if I wasn’t wearing a bike helmet?
Although the Highway Code strongly encourages wearing a helmet while riding a bike, there is no legal requirement for it in the UK. Even though a helmet might reduce the risk of a severe head injury by 69% and the risk of a face injury by 33%, there is no contributory negligence law for not wearing one.
This means that you can still make a bicycle accident claim even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. However, the court could take this factor into account when calculating a compensation award for any head or facial injury you suffered.
If the accident was not your fault, but wearing a helmet would have prevented or reduced the severity of an injury, your compensation might be deducted by a percentage to take the lack of a helmet into account.
Even if you are not legally required to wear the helmet, the court might decide you failed to take reasonable care of your own safety and did not take seriously the Highway Code recommendations. This will not affect your right to make a claim, but you might receive a reduced compensation amount.