Does Not Wearing A Helmet Affect My Personal Injury Claim If I Am Involved In A Road Traffic Accident?
Posted on 4th June 2020
According to cyclinguk.org, in the UK, the number of life years gained due to the benefits of cycling outweigh the number of life years lost through cycling-related injuries, by 20:1. This means that, for every 1 year of life lost due to Road Traffic Cycling Accidents, 20 are gained from the benefits of cycling to a person’s health. Cyclinguk.org’s key facts also state that mile for mile, the chances of being killed when cycling are around the same as pedestrians walking, with only one cyclist being killed on the roads for every 29 million miles cycled.
In the UK, the law does not specify that cyclists have to wear a bike helmet; the Highway Code states that cyclists should wear a helmet (amongst other cycling recommended gear), however, as of June 2020, it’s not legally required. Many organisations and individuals don’t necessarily see the need for helmets to be worn. In fact, many even oppose such legislation being introduced, such as a member of the Beauty of Cycling website, Peter Flax and writer at theguardian.com, Peter Walker.
What our team of expert Personal Injury Solicitors in Lancaster are more concerned with however, is whether not wearing a cycle helmet could affect your Personal Injury Compensation claim.
What sort of helmets can cyclists wear?
In the UK, cycle helmets are generally a plastic shell (which can be made of harder plastic or softer plastic), foam sections surrounding the inside of the plastic, and vents in the helmet, to allow air flow to keep the cyclist’s head cool. They often have a light on the rear, to increase the cyclist’s visibility, and a strap, which attaches to the retention system, to fit the helmet to the cyclist’s head.
Under the law, the helmet must meet European Standard EN1078. You can read more about the requirements under this standard, here.
If I am injured as a cyclist and not wearing a helmet, can I still claim compensation?
In our Personal Injury Solicitors in Lancaster’s experience, many cyclists are put off from making a claim for their injuries, on the basis that they weren’t wearing a helmet during the road traffic accident.
However, failing to wear a cycle helmet will not in itself, prevent you from making a Personal Injury Compensation Claim. It may, instead, lead to a finding of contributory negligence in your claim. Contributory Negligence means that, if you are the victim of an accident but you have contributed to the accident itself (or you made your injuries worse by not doing everything you could have to prevent them from happening), the Court can proportionally reduce the amount of compensation you are awarded.
How much will my personal injury compensation be reduced?
The reduction that you can see in your compensation award will depend on how much you are held to have contributed to your own harm.
The Court could use the case of Froom v Butcher (1975) as a basis for deciding how much your compensation should be reduced. In Froom, Lord Denning held that if a negligent defendant can prove that, if the claimant was wearing a seatbelt, they would have avoided their injuries altogether, their compensation should be reduced by 25%. If it would have merely have made their injuries less severe, a lesser reduction of 15% would be more appropriate.
Whilst there is not as much definitive guidance for Personal Injury Solicitors in Lancaster (as there is no law stating that failure to wear a helmet will automatically equal contributory negligence), the High Court applied the Froom case in the case of Smith v Finch in 2009.
Therefore, you could expect to receive 25% less than the full compensation you would have received for your injuries, if wearing a helmet would have completely prevented the injuries you sustained.
If wearing a helmet would not have contributed to your injuries what-so-ever, you can expect to receive no change to your compensation at all.
How do I make a claim for compensation if I’m injured in a Road Traffic Accident?
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