Cycling Accident Claims in Northern Ireland
9th February, 2023
There are more and more cyclists on the road. The Government are encouraging more people to use their bikes to and from work and there are many recreational and competitive cyclists on public roads. Cycle to Work schemes and bike hire have been success stories. It is inevitable that cyclists come into contact with other road users and as a consequence, accidents occur. In a collision with a motor vehicle, cyclists inevitably come out worse. Cyclists are involved in less than 1% of road traffic accidents, yet make up over 14% of serious injuries sustained in collisions. Cycling accidents are under reported to the PSNI compared with road traffic accidents.
In the five year period 2014-2018 there were a total of 265 cyclists killed or seriously injured in Northern Ireland. Although cyclists only account for 1% of all miles travelled per person per year,they make up 6% of casualties in collisions so are over represented in road traffic collision statistics and are therefore clearly particularly vulnerable.
We deal below with some of the more common questions arising from such accidents.
Where do most cycling accidents occur?
In descending order:
When do most accidents occur?
i.e. when the roads tend to be busy.
What are a cyclist’s legal obligations?
These are all contained in the Highway Code.
There is a specific section for cyclists. You must keep your bike in good, working order. You must cycle with due consideration for other road users and be in a fit state to control your bicycle. You must have lights front and back with reflectors if you are travelling on a public road. You must use your lights between sunset and sunrise. You must have working brakes and a bell. You must obey the road traffic legislation and follow the rules of the road. You cannot cycle in a pedestrian area or street. You cannot cycle on a pavement unless you are entering or leaving a property.
You must not carry a passenger unless the bike has been built or adapted to carry one. You cannot hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer. You must not ride under the influence of drink or drugs and must not ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner.
You are not obliged to use cycle lanes unless it is in a pedestrian area and where the cycle lane is a contra flow cycle lane, you can only cycle in the contra flow direction.
You must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
There is no legal obligation on a cyclist to wear a helmet or reflective clothing but good sense dictates you should. See and be seen. Failure to do so may affect the amount of compensation awarded even in cases where the accident was not your fault.
Who is responsible for an accident?
Everyone using the road must do so with all due care and skill and with consideration for other road users. Statistically in accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles, the fault lies with drivers of the motor vehicles over 70% of the time.
I was cycling along a road and a car passed too close to me, brushing me/hitting me or causing me to fall off by bike. Can I bring a claim for compensation?
Yes. A car driver has to drive competently and carefully with consideration for other users of the road, including cyclists. In 2022 the Highway Code was changed and new rules came into effect concerning cyclists. It is recommended that a driver should leave 1.5 metres between them and a cyclist when overtaking where road speeds are up to 30 mph and allow a greater gap at higher speeds. If a car drives too close to you and hits you then you will have a claim against the driver as they would have been negligent in the driving, management and control of their motor vehicle. If a vehicle does not hit you but drives so close to you that you become unstable and fall off your bike, then again you will have a claim against the driver for compensation.
I was turning left at a junction and the driver of the motor vehicle did not see me on the inside, resulting in a collision in which I sustained injury. Can I bring a claim for compensation?
Yes. This is a major problem at junctions especially in towns and cities where large commercial vehicles are on the roads. Such vehicles often have a blind spot and drivers fail to check their wing mirrors to see if a cyclist is on their inside. In London some lorries have been fitted with sensors, alarm soundings and better mirrors to warn drivers that cyclists are on their inside when turning left. Injuries sustained in these accidents are often very serious and can be fatal. All drivers need to be aware of the dangers posed to cyclists.
A vehicle hit me at traffic lights? Do I have a claim?
Yes. Clearly you were not seen by the driver of the vehicle.
I was cycling down the road and someone opened a car door into my path causing a collision. Do I have a claim?
Yes. Car users are expected to check the road is clear before they open their door into the road. If they fail to do so, and cause an accident then they are liable for the injuries sustained in the accident. The changes to the Highway Code included a change to how a car door should be opened. Drivers should open car doors using the “Dutch reach method” – with the opposite hand from the door they are opening, so drivers should reach across themselves, twist around and look outside the window to see if they are about to open the door into the path of an oncoming cyclist.
A car hit me when I was on my bike. The accident was not my fault. However I was not wearing a helmet. Does this affect my case?
Yes. You will still have a case for compensation but there is likely to be a reduction in the value of the claim if your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries.
A car hit me when I was cycling but did not stop and as a result I could not find out who the driver was. I sustained injuries. Can I claim compensation?
Yes. In cases where you have sustained injuries caused by the driver of a motor vehicle which does not stop or is uninsured, you may bring a claim for compensation for your injuries and other financial loss against the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). The MIB act as if they were the insurer of the untraced/uninsured vehicle. There are strict reporting requirements in MIB accident claims and it is important that you seek urgent legal advice if you are in an accident with an uninsured or untraced vehicle.
I was out cycling and hit a pothole on the road and fell off sustaining injuries. Do I have a claim for compensation against the Department of Infrastructure?
You may have a claim. Decaying roads are an increasing problem. The Department of Infrastructure have a duty of care to maintain the roads and are expected to have a regular system of inspection and repair. If the Department can show that they have a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance and regularly inspected the road, then there could be difficulty in establishing liability. However, if they cannot then they are likely to be found liable. If the pothole arose from work done negligently in repairing the road, then you will have a claim for compensation.
Can I overtake a vehicle on the inside?
Yes, but only if the vehicles to the right are stationary. Be careful if you do. Remember that someone could open a door into your path. You should be confident that the vehicle will remain stationary – if in doubt do not overtake on the inside.
Can I cycle beside another cyclist?
Yes, but you should ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding around bends.
What should I do if I have an accident?
What compensation will I receive for injuries sustained in an accident?
This will depend on the nature of your injuries and your financial loss. It will include:
How long do I have to make a claim?
Normally you have three years from the date of your injury. However:
Why Kearney Law?
We at Kearney Law are ready to assist you and have the knowledge and expertise you need to make a successful claim for compensation. We have an expert team ready to deal with your cycling accident. We will ensure you recover compensation for your injuries, swiftly and professionally. Our aim is to get you back in the saddle.
We only do personal injury law and are experts at it.
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