Cycling injuries on canal towpath personal injury claims.
Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and a pastime taken up by many people, with an estimated 42% of the nation either owning, or having access to a bicycle.
With greater numbers of us cycling, comes a higher number of accidents and injuries.
If you, or a member of your family, have sustained an injury whilst cycling, and the accident was as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can most likely make a claim for personal injury compensation.
MG Legal’s specialist cycling personal injury solicitors are here to help you, with all claims accepted being handled on a no win, no fee basis. Contact our team today, for a no obligation chat about how we can assist you.
Can you legally cycle on canal towpaths?
Cycling is at its most popular for decades, with an estimated 33% of the UK having cycled at least once in the last 12 months and over £33 million being spent on bikes or cycle equipment in 2019, alone. This equates to a lot of cycling and of course, to people cycling in a variety of locations, particularly when they are cycling for leisure purposes.
Nobody wants to go for a bike ride in a city centre and so, naturally, cyclists seek out the more pleasant locations to cycle, which tend to be in the countryside, or at least away from urban areas. There are many designated cycle paths, byways and a general right to use bridleways for cyclists, but these rights do not extend to the use of footpaths. These cycle paths, byways and bridleways together form part of the National Cycle Network. The final piece of the National Cycle Network are canal towpaths, along which cyclists are permitted to travel, provided they adhere to Canal & River Trust guidelines. There are over 2000 miles of towpath for cyclists to use and so, this is a lot of additional cycling space for keen cyclists seeking a different route.
What happens if I suffer an injury as a result of an uneven canal towpath, when I am on my bike?
Canal towpaths are managed by the Canal & River Trust, who operate in a similar way to the local Council when maintaining the various roadways and paths under their remit. If you are cycling and suffer an injury due to a defect or obstacle on a canal towpath, and the accident isn't your fault, it is likely that the Canal & River Trust could be liable for the injury you have sustained. To find out more, contact MG Legal’s team of expert cycling accident personal injury solicitors to discuss how we can help you make a claim for your injuries and any associated losses, on a no win no fee basis.
How do I prove that the Canal & River Trust was at fault?
The Canal & River Trust operates across the network with a similar set of responsibilities to, say, the local Council or private landowner. All of these parties have a duty to ensure their various areas of responsibility are reasonably safe for the public to use. A major difference for the Canal & River Trust is that towpaths are often over 200 years old, cannot be paved or tarmacked and have to accommodate a variety of users including canalboat users, people fishing, walkers, joggers and cyclists. Because of this, it is often not as simple as identifying a threshold of 2.5cm depth in a difference between two paving slabs as would be the case on a pavement. Any defects, including holes and obstructions found on a canal towpath are more objectively defined and require a degree of common sense.
However, this does not give the Trust carte blanche to leave defects untended for months, and to prevent the risk of personal injury, they must still have in place a reasonable system of inspection. Any system of inspection that is put in place must identify any potential hazards, and if they are indeed do find a hazard, put steps in place to warn users of any significant danger, or to simply repair or refurbish any lesser hazards in a timely manner.
To assist in proving the existence of any defect or hazard, it is most useful if you can take images or video of the area in question. Should you have any suitable items on your person, such as a 50 pence piece, these can be used to roughly estimate the height of any defect. If you are able to return to the site later, more precise measurements can be taken using a spirit level, or a long piece of wood or similar material across the width of the defect and then using a ruler or tape measure to detail the exact depth of the defect. Should your injuries prevent you doing so, as it is possible that repairs could be effected, it is worth seeking to instruct a solicitor as quickly as possible so that a decision can be made about whether to instruct formal investigation agents to carry out a full inspection and report on the area.
What kind of defects occur on towpaths?
With such varied use, the canal towpath can contain a variety of hazards, although the Trust does generally do a good job of finding and removing or repairing them.
Some hazards that you might come across are:
• Potholes, these develop as a result of use, water runoff and general erosion;
• Uneven surfaces, such as cobbles or stones which have been laid but have since become misaligned;
• Dilapidated, damaged or broken mooring sites. These purpose built sites are generally made as safe as possible but damage or wear and tear can turn them into hazards;
• Exposed footpath supports. Many towpaths are built not from solid concrete but a permeable base supported by metal struts, which can become exposed over time and which can ‘trip’ the unknowing cyclist;
• Debris, rubbish and equipment. Whilst these are more ‘transient’ defects if, say, a broken piece of boating equipment is left and not collected within a reasonable amount of time, this can also constitute a breach of duty on the part of the Trust.
• Slippery surfaces. If stone or concrete pathways are not regularly cleaned, algae and moss can render them very slippery which is a particularly dangerous thing for cyclists;
• Lack of lighting. If an area is insufficiently lit and you cycle after dark, hitting an unmarked or unlit step, drop or other item can constitute a breach of duty if the lighting could likely have made it apparent;
Each case is, of course, different and so, whatever has happened, contact MG Legal and one of our expert cycling injury solicitors will be happy to have a free-of-charge, no obligation discussion about your case.
Why choose MG Legal for my cycling canal towpath personal injury claim?
MG Legal has a dedicated personal injury department and we specialise in this area of the Law. Over several decades of combined experience, we have seen it all, done it all and most importantly, won over 99% of our cases for our clients. We know that behind ever incident is an individual and because of this, we don’t hide behind our desks, using complicated legal jargon in letters and relying on secretaries or call centres to answer our calls. When you instruct MG Legal, you get a dedicated solicitor and when you call up, you will speak to the people actively involved in your claim and we will, wherever possible, talk to you like a person, cutting through all the Latin phrases and vague phrases other Solicitors use when they don’t want to answer a direct question.
If you want a highly experienced, down-to-earth solicitor to recover the maximum possible damages in your claim, look no further than MG Legal. Every case we accept is taken on a no win no fee basis so that you have no need to worry about funding your case out of your own pocket. Get in touch by calling, emailing, sending a contact form via our website or at any of our offices in Garstang, Longridge and Lancaster. You will speak to a personal injury expert with a view to getting the ball rolling the same working day.