You may have read about the high profile case in England recently, where a judge found a cyclist partially to blame for a collision after a pedestrian stepped on to the road whilst looking at her mobile phone. In particular, there has been a lot of coverage on the fact that the cyclist has claimed he may be bankrupted as a result of the court finding and a crowdfunding page has been set up to help him meet the costs associated with the claim.
The reason the cyclist may be bankrupted is because he was uninsured. It is not mandatory to have insurance in order to cycle on the roads but, as this judgement emphasises, it may be prudent for regular (or even occasional) cyclists to seriously consider taking out insurance either through your home insurance policy or a standalone specialist policy, perhaps through your cycling club.
Insurance would cover injury to third parties or damage to third party property caused by your actions along with the legal costs incurred dealing with the claim. Even property damage claims can be substantial if, for example, you damage a vehicle and then find yourself liable for the repairs, replacement vehicle for the duration of the repairs and legal costs.
Injuries caused by cyclists, particularly in cases where the incident involves a pedestrian, can be extremely serious, and therefore extremely costly if you are to blame or even partly to blame. A cyclist without insurance could end up being personally liable for a large injury award plus legal costs. The fact that a cyclist is uninsured does not mean that the award is unenforceable. Instead the cyclist is personally liable and if the award is not paid then enforcement action to satisfy the judgement may follow which can have a devastating impact upon your personal assets and your credit rating.
If you are involved in a cycling accident, whether you consider it to be your fault or not, make a record of the time, date and place of the incident, along with details of all parties involved to include names, addresses, and if applicable vehicle registration and insurance details. Photographs of the locus are also useful. If possible, take details of any witnesses to include name, address and telephone number. If the other party is unwilling to provide details you may have to involve the police. If you have insurance you should notify your insurer of the incident. You may actually be covered under your home insurance policy already so it’s worth making enquiries if you’re not 100% sure. If you don’t have insurance you may wish to take legal advice at the outset to ascertain what your rights of recovery are if, for example, there is any injury to you or damage to your property. In the event that you receive a letter of claim from the other party you should take legal advice immediately. Our litigation team can advise on these issues if required, so if you should find yourself in this situation do not hesitate to contact us to discuss it further.