Cyclists, insurance and accident liability

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Many people have very strong views as to whether cyclists should have compulsory insurance in case they cause an accident. Currently, there is no legal requirement for this, which means if a cyclist causes an accident, the injured party may not be able to get compensation.

There are two options for bringing a claim against a cyclist

The first is not generally satisfactory, which is to bring the claim against the cyclist personally. A cyclist who causes an accident will be personally liable to pay damages to an injured person if an accident is caused by the cyclist’s negligence. An insurance policy, where one exists, merely pays out on their behalf. However, where there is no insurance policy in place, it can be difficult or even impossible to enforce any claim. There is no way to get blood out of a stone, so if the cyclist has no means of paying out damages then making a claim is not going to get you anywhere. It can be difficult to obtain information about a person’s financial circumstances, and so difficult to assess whether they would be in a position to pay. For those reasons, it would be unusual for a solicitor to bring a claim against a cyclist personally under a ‘no win no fee’ agreement.

The second possibility is one that Julia Prior, our expert in such claims, has used successfully in the past, and one which many people are not aware of. If the cyclist lives in a household where there is a house contents insurance in place, then the policy will generally include cover for ‘third party liability’. That would usually cover the cyclist for an accident claim. It would equally apply to a child cyclist if they were old enough to bear legal responsibility for their actions.

Unfortunately, there is no database one can check to see if such a policy is in place, and so to an extent, you are reliant on the cyclist co-operating and providing details of their policy. If they refuse, then it may be possible to apply to the Court for an Order requiring them to provide the details, but there is also the risk that they simply don’t have any such policy, and you would have to pay the costs of the Court application. Where someone has suffered serious injuries as the result of an accident, it may be worthwhile taking the risk and incurring those costs as making a personal injury claim can help you get access to financial support to get back on your feet following the injury.

Similarly to the above, Julia has successfully brought claims using a house contents policy where injuries have been caused by animals, including dogs which have run out into the road and caused an accident as well as where a dog has bitten people.

“In my experience, many people are simply unaware of the cover that their house contents insurance policy provides,” Julia commented.

Other options available

Another option that people often forget they have is linked to legal expenses insurance. The injured party may have legal expenses insurance as part of the benefits they receive from their banking or other insurance product so even where a solicitor may not be able to take on their case on a ‘No win no fee’ basis, they may still be able to get legal advice using their own policy.

No doubt there will be similar discussions in the event e-scooters become legal for use on public roads. Currently, we note that the Local Authority e-scooter schemes in Bristol and Southampton do provide third party liability insurance. As the likelihood of privately owned e-scooters being used on public roads becoming legal is increasing, we ponder whether insurance will become a legal requirement. It will be interesting to see what this may mean for cyclists and whether we will see the same rules applied to them.

If you were involved in an accident, we can help

If you have suffered an accident as the result of someone else’s negligent behaviour, our expert team of personal injury solicitors will be happy to have a free confidential chat with you to explore your options. You will never incur any costs unless formally agreed with us in writing and where possible we will explore all possibilities for taking on your case on a ‘No win no fee’ basis.

We will always be honest with you and explore all possible ways for getting you the support you need. If you need our help, contact us today to arrange an appointment.

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