Cycle accident claims news

 

Santa's little bikers need safety advice under the tree to go with their new wheels

Children are cycling on our busy roads at a younger and younger age, many from the age of five, according to new research from local child cyclist’s safety charity Cycle-Smart

With the Christmas peak in bike and helmet sales now upon us, the charity - as part of its #FiveSs campaign - is visiting schools across the Thames Valley to increase parent's and children's awareness of the need for properly fitted helmets and safer cycling practice - to mitigate risk of serious injury or death if new bikes and helmets are not accompanied by more effective, simple guidance on head protection and road safety. 

The national research from Cycle-Smart surveyed over 1,700 children in England aged 5-9, and found:

More than one in seven (15%) of 5-6 year olds now cycle on roads where there are cars;

The figure rises to 37% of 7-9 year olds;

Amongst boys in the 7-9 year old  44% were more likely to cycle on the road compared to 23% of girls;

Only 70% even own a helmet, and only 47% wear them every time they use their bike.

The last 6 months of road data (January- June 2017) shows a 24% increase in serious child cycling casualties compared to same 6 months last year.

Boyes Turner is proud to have sponsored a video for Cycle-Smart, released today, which gives simple to follow tips on helmet fitting and cycle safety.   

A snap-survey conducted last month by Cycle-Smart volunteers of 350 children, including 120 in the Reading, Newbury, Slough and wider Berkshire area, has revealed a worrying failure of children to wear properly fitted helmets:

Over 60% of under six-year-olds did not have straps secured properly under the chin or with the Y-shaped straps fitted correctly around the ears;

Over a quarter of under six-year-olds did not have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

For 6-14 year olds, over 40% didn’t have straps positioned and secured correctly, and 18% didn’t have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

Angela Lee, Founder and Chief Executive of Cycle-Smart, says:
"A lifetime of happy, healthy cycling is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their child. But a bike without a well-fitted helmet and the common-sense advice and training necessary to share the road with cars, vans and trucks could lead to unnecessary anguish. We're urging parents, bike shops and those responsible for educating our children to use the roads safely to come together to make sure this Christmas's bike bonanza leaves a safe and happy legacy in the New Year."

Claire Roantree, Trustee of Cycle-Smart and Partner at Boyes Turner LLP, says:
"Thousands of new bikes will be under the tree this Christmas. They're gifts that will create happier, healthier, more independent kids. However, it is an unavoidable fact that some of these bikes will lead to accidents. The risks shouldn't stop kids getting freer and fitter on their bikes. But it would be reckless if a major part of the gift wasn't parents, bike shops and schools coming together to ensure helmets are always well-fitted and advice is provided to the ever-younger kids sharing the roads with cars. We urge all parents of child cyclists to watch the Cycle-Smart video."

Oakland's Junior School win prizes for road safety project

Children from Oaklands Junior School in Crowthorne worked hard and had fun learning about road safety during this year’s Road Safety Week campaign (November 20-26, 2017).

Their challenge was to think about how to make the roads around their school safer, and to create a poster promoting road safety. 

The national awareness week is the flagship event of Brake, the road safety charity, and has been running for 20 years. The theme, Speed Down Save Lives, was chosen because speeding remains a huge problem in the UK; the risk of injury increases massively with impact speed, and speeding is a factor in nearly a quarter of fatal road crashes in the UK. 

Local Brain Injury Group member firm Boyes Turner supported the school’s activity and got involved in judging the poster entries and awarding prizes.

“We work with families badly affected by avoidable accidents all the time, and campaigns like this are a great way to get the message out there that we can all do a bit more to make our streets safer and reduce accidents,” said Claire Roantree, Partner at Boyes Turner. “The creativity of the children never fails to impress, and demonstrates that they’ve had fun learning about a very serious message.”

The winning entries each received WHSmith vouchers, and all children taking part received a fluorescent pencil.

“Road Safety Week is about raising awareness that will keep everyone alert and safe on the roads. If we can make the message fun, we can make it last”, said Sally Alexander, teacher at Oaklands.

The Brain Injury Group is a national network of specialist brain injury lawyers and support services. If you have been affected by brain injury visit braininjurygroup.co.uk for help and signposting to services.

Speed down - Save lives

The simple fact is that the faster you are driving, the more chance you have of being involved in an accident and the more chance that the accident will be serious or could result in a fatality.

Facts

  1. Did you know that approximately two-thirds of crashes in which people are killed or injured occur on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less.
     
  2. At 30 mph vehicles are travelling at 44 feet (about 3 car lengths) per second. All it would take is one blink and a driver may fail to see the early warning of another vehicles brake lights. A short glance away and the movement of a child from behind a parked car in to the road will be missed.
     
  3. Even in good conditions, the difference in the stopping distance between 30 mph and 35 mph is an extra 21 feet or 6.4 metres, more than 2 car lengths.
     
  4. If average speeds were reduced by just 1 mph, the national annual accident rate would fall by approximately 5%.
     
  5. If an individual drives more than 10 - 15% above the average speed of the traffic around them, they are much more likely to be involved in an accident.
  6. On average, in front impact collisions, seat belt wearing drivers have a 17% risk of being fatally injured in impacts at 40 mph and a 60% risk at 50 mph, though half of drivers who were fatally injured were in an impact of 34 mph or less.
     
  7. In side impact collisions, drivers are at a much greater risk of being fatally injured:
    In a collision at 40 mph the risk of a seat belt wearing driver being killed is 85%.
     
  8. Studies involving pedestrians have shown that pedestrians are more likely to be severely or fatally injured when hit by cars at higher speeds, and particularly when the car is travelling more than 30 mph.
     
  9. An analysis of vehicle speed in pedestrian fatalities in Great Britain found that 85% of pedestrians killed when struck by cars died in a collision that occurred at impact speeds below 40mph, 45% at less than 30 mph and 5% at speeds below 20 mph.

    The risk of a pedestrian who is hit by a car being killed increases slowly until impact speeds of around 30 mph. Above this speed, the risk increases rapidly so that a pedestrian who is hit by a car travelling at between 30 mph and 40 mph is between 3.5 and 5.5 times more likely to be killed than if hit by a car travelling at below 30 mph. However, about half of pedestrian fatalities occur at impact speeds of 30 mph or below.

As can be seen from above speeding is highly dangerous and even going just a few miles per hour over the speed limit can mean the difference between life and death.

But what can be done to change the general public’s opinion that speeding is ok, as long as you are not speeding excessively?

Education

Perhaps the best way to stop people from speeding is by the use of education.

Education is absolutely vital in trying to change attitudes towards speeding.  As an example, those who drink and drive are seen as behaving in a dangerous, anti-social, immoral and selfish manner with little regard for the safety of other people.  However, those who speed are often not regarded in this way unless they grossly exceed the speed limit.  It is essential that the dangers caused by driving at inappropriate speeds are clearly explained and demonstrated (in the way that has been done for drink-driving) to work towards a general acceptance and ownership of the problem of illegal and inappropriate speed.

It will be far easier to persuade people to drive at safer speeds if they understand and accept that driving too fast significantly increases the chances of being involved in an accident, and significantly increases the chances of that accident being serious or fatal.  

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) strongly support road safety publicity campaigns such as the Department for Transports “Think Country Roads” campaign which highlights the dangers of inappropriate speed.

Speed cameras

Speed cameras are placed in known accident hot-spots to force drivers to slow down in those areas.  These cameras play a vital role in slowing drivers down though many drivers will simply slow down when they see a speed camera and then speed up again after they have passed it.

Drivers should remind themselves that speed limits and speed cameras are in place for a reason and keep at or below the speed limit at all times.

Vehicle speed restriction devices

Many modern vehicles are now fitted with speed restriction devices which the driver can set to stop them self accidentally going over the speed limit.

On many commercial vehicles such as lorries these devices are fitted by the company/vehicle owner and cannot be removed by the driver.

Vehicle speed restriction devices are a great way to slow drivers down, though even if your vehicle is not fitted with a speed restriction device by simply checking your speedometer on a regular basis you can ensure you do not accidentally go over the speed limit.

Leaving on time

Many accidents are caused by people rushing due to the fact that they are running late. Always ensure that you leave plenty of time for your journeys so that there is no need to speed.

Our message

We have sadly dealt with many road traffic collision claims where people have been severely or fatally injured. 

The effect of a high speed accident will be devastating to the injured victim, often resulting in a serious spinal injury, an amputation or a brain injury. 

In the case of a fatal accident the victim’s family will be markedly impacted by the loss of a loved one.

We fully support Road Safety Week and recommend that all drivers ensure they drive within the speed limits. If you would like more information on Road Safety Week click here.

Cycle Safety and the Highway Code

Are you aware that it is a mandatory requirement of the Highway Code for all cycles to be fitted with reflectors and lights if being ridden at night?

Rule 60 of the Highway Code states that:

·       At night your cycle MUST have illuminated white front and red rear lights.

·       Your cycle MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 01 October 1985).

The above requirements within Rule 60 are mandatory. (The Highway Code emphasises this by highlighting the word “MUST” in bold capitals).

Rule 60 also states that:

·       While front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.

·       Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp

These two recommendations are not mandatory, but are good advice to cyclists to ensure that they are safe and visible to other road users.

Boyes Turner are instructed by many cycle users who have been injured whilst cycling in circumstances where the correct use of cycle lights might have helped avoid the accident, such as falling from the bike owing to unseen defects in the road surface or collisions with another vehicle whose driver didn't see them.

Boyes Turner recommend that all cyclists comply with the Highway Code, both for their own safety and to increase their prospects of recovering compensation in the event of an accident.

Additionally, other items such as reflective strips, reflectors that can be attached to cycle helmets and specially designed, bright clothing can make you more visible to other road users.

Boyes Turner are trustees of “Cycle-Smart”, a local cycle charity in Reading and share their aims to promote cycle safety.

Statistics for Cyclists from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

According to RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, there were 18,844 reported road cycling accidents in the UK in 2015.

These accidents were broken down as follows:

 Child (0 – 15)AdultAll*
Killed694100
Seriously injured2722,9333,239
Slightly injured1,65113,50815,505
Total1,92916,53518,844

*All includes casualties where age not recorded.

However, RoSPA’s report states that the numbers recorded within the statistics do not record a true picture of the number of cycle accidents that occur each year, as many incidents, even serious ones, are not reported to the police.  Furthermore, the statistics only record road related cycle injuries, meaning that the total number of UK cycling injuries is in fact a lot higher than indicated.

The report goes on to provide the following facts:

  • Almost two thirds of fatal or serious cycling injuries involve collisions at or near a road junction with T-junctions being the most commonly involved.
  • Roundabouts are statistically proven to be dangerous for cyclists.
  • The level of injury increases with the speed limit applicable to the road where the accident occurs.
  • Almost half of cycle deaths occur on rural roads.
  • Around 80% of cycling accidents occur in daylight, though most fatal accidents occur in the dark.
  • The most dangerous times for a cyclist to be on the road are 8am – 9am and 3pm – 6pm on weekdays.
  • Around three quarters of cyclists killed die from major head injuries.
  • 16% of fatal or serious accidents reported to the police do not involve another vehicle, but arise from the cyclist losing control of their bike.
  • 20% of accidents involve cyclists entering the road from the pavement unexpectedly.
  • 20% of fatalities recorded in London involve cyclists riding on the left of an HGV where the HGV turned left and collided with the cyclist.
  • 40% of adult and 45% of child cyclists who attend hospital after a cycle accident have suffered a head injury

With the above information in mind, cyclists can take the following measures to avoid accidents and limit their injuries where accidents do occur.

  • When riding at night time always ensure your bicycle is fitted with front and rear cycle lights. An article on the Highway Code rules and guidance regarding cycle lights can be found here.
  • Additional aids can also be purchased to make you more visible to other road users such as reflective clothing, reflectors and flashing lights.

  • Be extra cautious when riding during rush hour times as this is when most accidents occur.
  • Wear a well fitted, branded and safety-marked cycle helmet to limit the damage done if you hit your head during a cycle accident.
  • Wear bright and reflective clothing when cycling to make yourself more visible to other road users.

  • Be extra cautious when riding near road junctions and roundabouts as these areas have a high cycle accident rate.
  • Be cautious when riding near HGV’s and do not attempt to ride on their inside near junctions where they may suddenly turn left.
  • Do not ride straight from the pavement on to the road. Always stop your bike, check it is safe to enter the road and then manoeuvre carefully.
  • Educate young and vulnerable people on the importance of safe cycling to reduce the risk of injury.

Boyes Turner are trustees of “Cycle-Smart”, a local cycle charity in Reading and share their desire to promote cycle safety.

We have secured compensation awards and settlements for many clients who have suffered serious injuries in road traffic accidents whilst cycling. Where appropriate, we will seek funding at an early stage under the Rehabilitation Code to pay for your treatment and care or through interim payments once liability is proven, in order to aid your recovery and restore your mobility and independence. Making a claim can also help alleviate financial hardship from loss of earnings after suffering an injury in an accident.

Road safety for cyclists

The number of people cycling today has increased by more than a quarter in the last twenty years. However, whilst there are many cyclists who use our busy roads without a problem, there are still some who are either afraid or hesitant to cycle, particularly in traffic.

We have noticed a worrying rise in news about cyclists getting into serious accidents on the road recently and so we have put together some safety tips to help cyclists become more aware of the dangers around them and what they can do to ensure they are safe on the roads.

 

Top road safety tips

Safety comes first:

  • Know and follow the Highway Code
  • Wear a helmet
  • Keep your bike roadworthy
  • In wet weather watch your speed – slippery surfaces it will take you longer to stop

Be seen

  • Use lights and wear bright or reflective clothing, especially at night and in bad weather
  • Make eye contact with other road users
  • Use your bell to warn others of your presence
  • Look behind you when changing positions on the road. This will attract the attention of other drivers and you will know what is happening around you.

Safety in traffic

  • Always ride away from the kerb and parked cars
  • Ensure you ride in a stream of traffic when matching its speed

Having control

  • Are you able to shift your body weight when making an emergency stop? Ensure you are able to swerve safely and use your gears properly
  • On the road have two fingers on your brake levers, this will ensure you brake quicker when it is needed

Road communication

  • Don’t forget to communicate your intentions with other road users
  • Use hand signals and road positioning
  • Ensure you look behind you before signalling

Approaching junctions

  • When approaching a junction, position yourself in the middle of the lane. This will prevent dangerous overtaking
  • Use this approach when moving through a roundabout

Need training?

  • If you are unsure of cycle safety on the road, consider having some cycle training

Cycle-Smart Foundation - an award winning child cyclist's safety charity

Adrianna Rajwa, a solicitor in the Personal Injury team has recently become a Trustee of the Cycle-Smart Foundation, a small charity committed to saving young people’s lives by promoting all aspects of safer cycling and, in particular, the use of cycle helmets.

The charity provides a community service by highlighting the need of safer cycling practices, working with parents, teachers, police, road safety officers, Government departments, healthcare professionals and children themselves. It provides educational programmes in schools on the need for helmet use and safer cycling practice throughout the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

The charity was founded in 1998 by a paediatric nurse, Angela Lee, who through her work saw the devastation that head injuries can cause.

For further information about the work of the charity please visit their website http://www.cycle-smart.org/en/page/1/home. The charity also offers good quality cycle helmets and cycling safety gear which can be purchased through their website https://cycle-smart-shop.org/.

For over 20 years Boyes Turner Personal Injury Group have specialised in cycle accident claims and in helping cyclists get compensation for the losses and injuries that they have suffered. We represent many cyclists and sports people who have been injured in sporting activities, whilst training, enjoying leisure pursuits or whilst commuting to work. We focus on rehabilitation helping injured people to go back to their pre-accident quality of life as soon as possible.

If you have been involved in an accident on a bicycle then get in touch with our expert personal injury claim lawyers on 0800 015 4542 or email PIClaims@boyesturner.com.

Solicitor left paralysed after head first fall whilst mountain biking

Mr Asif Ahmed paid £79 for a beginners’ mountain biking course in the Surrey Hills but now faces the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

The qualified bio-technologist, engineer, barrister and solicitor hit his head after hurtling over the handlebars on notoriously steep Holmbury Hill in March 2012.

Mr Ahmed sued his instructor for the tragedy. Mr Justice Jeremy Baker ruled that the instructor was 80pc to blame for the tragedy. He was negligent in “encouraging” Mr Ahmed to ride “at speed” down the sharp slope without first assessing his biking skills. Describing Mr Ahmed as a “novice rider”, the judge said he “should have been warned” not to take the most difficult route down the hill. The instructor had exposed him to “a serious risk of harm” and sent him down a slope that was “beyond his capacity to ride down safely”.

Mr Ahmed was injured when his front wheel suddenly jammed on ‘what looked like a clumpy, grassy piece of ground’. He came off his bike head first over the handlebars and impacted on the front of his head, just above the forehead.

Mr Ahmed had been riding a mountain bike for years but this was the first time he had any training and he was a novice when it came to sharp descents over rough terrain.

Ruling on the case, the judge said that the instructor was an “enthusiastic, easy-going” teacher, who had “a tendency to be over-optimistic” about some students’ abilities. When the group met up in a car park before the tragedy, he appeared to have made no assessment of each student’s cycling skills.

The judge accepted that there was nothing necessarily wrong with taking students “out of their comfort zone”. But the instructor had given Mr Ahmed false confidence in his abilities despite warning signs that the hill would be too much for him.

Finding the instructor 80pc to blame, the judge said he had “failed to carry out his tuition with reasonable skill and care”. Mr Ahmed, the judge ruled, was 20pc responsible for his own misfortune in failing to raise doubts about his own abilities. As an adult with some biking experience, he had not “abdicated complete responsibility for his own safety” to the instructor. He may also have felt “peer pressure” from other students to head down the toughest part of the hill, rather than take an easier “chicken route”

The amount of Mr Ahmed’s payout has yet to be assessed but it is likely to be more than £3 million.

Cyclist with permanent brain damage to claim against negligent driver

The High Court has awarded damages to a cyclist who suffered significant multiple injuries, including permanent brain damage, following a road accident in which a bicycle came into contact with the defendants car.

Mrs Justice Cox ruled that the vehicle’s driver was negligent and bore 75% responsibility of  the accident.

The claimant, Mrs Sinclair, lost control of her bicycle and fell head first into the road when the wheel of her bike was grazed by the car. The car’s driver said that Mrs Sinclair had “deviated unexpectedly” in front of her, giving her no chance to avoid the collision.

However, on 23 June 2015 in the High Court, Mrs Justice Cox ruled that the driver was 75% to blame for the accident, saying that she should have recognised the cyclist as a hazard and stopped her vehicle so that Mrs Sinclair could safely pass.

However, Mrs Justice Cox did find Mrs Sinclair partly responsible for the road traffic accident, saying that she should not have been riding so close to the middle of the road and therefore should bear 25% responsibility for the accident.

Mrs Sinclair’s brain damage claim will be assessed at a later date but compensation could run into 7 figures, given the severity of her injuries.  Unfortunately Mrs Sinclair could not give evidence in Court due to her minimally aware state.

Kim Smerdon, specialist brain injury claims solicitor at Boyes Turner, commented on the case:

“This is a tragic case where the claimant suffered life changing injuries. The case was not a straightforward one, given that it was the claimant who initially lost control of her bicycle.  However, as the Judge rightly pointed out, the defendant should have stopped her vehicle so as to allow the claimant to safely pass. Difficult cases such as this highlight how essential it is to obtain specialist legal advice”.

Six figure compensation for widow following tragic cyclist death

A cyclist was tragically killed after cycling in a charity event and hitting a pothole. His surviving spouse was awarded compensation from the council who failed to repair the pothole.

The deceased cyclist hit the pothole and was sent into the air and in the way of an oncoming vehicle, he died immediately following impact.

The police had asked the council to repair this particular pothole on several occasions, however nothing had been done. Further warnings were giving by traffic officers to the Council to do something about it but still nothing was done.

Inspection of the road did take place a few weeks prior to the fatal accident however repairs were never initiated. An inquest took place which confirmed that the deceased death could have been avoided had the repairs been carried out. The road in question was an A-road and, by law, needs to be inspected monthly. The defect was identified before the accident but not repaired.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found that the council should not be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter or any other charges.

Cases involving accidents caused by potholes are not straightforward claims. Each case is determined on the facts. Inspection in these matters by the Council who are responsible for doing so is paramount. Inspection records and details can be requested from the Council to ascertain whether the defect had been identified or not and whether repairs had been authorised. Defendants will be found liable where they have breached their obligations to inspect the roads as per the law and failed to complete reasonable repairs in reasonable time.

  • Page 1 of 5

The service was personal, professional and considered. I was treated so kindly and in the end I knew that not only had I found the right organisation but also the right person.

Claims client

How can we help?

Please get in touch 0800 029 4802

Or we are happy to call you back at a time that suits you

Office open Mon - Fri: 08:30 - 18:00

We are here to help

For more information or to speak to one of our experts, please call 0800 029 4802