We received a very positive response when we posted up the steps to keep in mind if you are ever involved in an accident. Whilst it’s often something we never think about, knowing what to do can make a big difference in dealing with the aftermath of an unfortunate event.
As a number of people posted comments about accidents they’ve had in the past I wanted to dive a little deeper into the topic. By demystifying the process I hope that anyone who ever finds themselves in an accident can feel confident in chasing it up.
If you have any follow on questions then we’ll be monitoring the comments and offering our advice.
Cycling personal injury claim procedures
In an accident you need to be aware of the steps you need to take. This includes, as in a car crash, not admitting any liability (think Shaggy: It wasn’t me).
If you have an injury then you have every right to pursue an injury claim. The injury may cause an inconvenience at best or in worse scenarios require expensive medical assistance. You also need to consider damaged bikes and equipment which need replacing. The other party is liable to restoring these goods to their previous condition.
In a claims process you should ideally look into contacting a legal firm that specialises in cycling accidents. London Cyclist works with CAMS who have a small team dedicated to exactly this. If you’d like to get some advice on your accident then you can enter your details below and they’ll call you back.
As is well known, the legal process can be an expensive one. As cyclists we are often uninsured and therefore may not by default have cover for this. A solicitor should discuss with you how to get funding and potentially you could enter in a so called “no win – no fee” scenario. In this case the premium for the service is recovered from the third party.
In the case of someone with insurance you are not legally obliged to use the firm of solicitors your insurer has a relationship with. This is your choice.
Gathering evidence and building your case
With your help your lawyer will begin to gather the evidence in support of your claim.
A good firm will take away the perceived ‘hassle’ of making a claim and be in contact
with you as little or as often as you, the individual, would like. The initial contact with
the solicitor may take some time so that all of the relevant accident and financial loss
information can be gathered, but they should then be able to pursue matters on your
As soon as the lawyer has enough information they will write a letter of claim to the person or organisation who is responsible for the accident. They will then be known as the third party or Defendant. You are known as the Claimant.
Who’s fault is it (Or in legal terms: finger pointing!)
Part of the cycling accident claim process is to look in-depth at the series of events that occurred to decide who the blame can be attributed to. In some cases the liability can be split. A solicitor will look at previous cases to decide what level of split liability is likely.
- See also: When can you claim in an accident
Preparing a medical report
You will then need to see a doctor to prepare a medical report. The type of expert consulted will depend on the incident.
Out of court settlement
Once your lawyers have enough information to write the detailed letter of claim and it is sent, the timetable starts. The Defendant must acknowledge receipt of the letter of claim within 21 days.
This process is called the “pre-action protocol”. This is to encourage parties to exchange information and to reach settlement without the need for court proceedings.
If for any reason the Defendant does not forward the letter of claim to their insurer promptly, the insurer can ask us for additional time to respond. This is more common in cases involving potholes or highway defects. In cases involving another vehicle then your lawyers should also investigate with the DVLA who insures the defendants vehicle and a letter of claim will also be sent to the vehicle insurers.
Most claims are made against Defendants who are insured. Sometimes there may be
arguments as to whether or not the Defendant is insured. Where the Defendant is not
insured, the Motor Insurers Bureau may deal with the claim.
Once the insurer has acknowledged receipt of the letter of claim they have 3 months to make a decision on whether they will pay your claim. If the defendant admits liability then providing your claim is worth less than £15,000 that admission will normally be binding on the insurer. Usually settlement can be reached within a few months in this case.
If the defendant denies liability they must give reasons. They must also provide any documents relating to your claim. If the Defendant claims you were party to blame this must also be backed up with reasons. The Claimant’s lawyers must then respond to those allegations.
Your lawyers will have to send to the Defendant as soon as possible a list of all your financial losses with supporting documents. This is called the ‘Schedule of Special Damages’. These include pay slips for loss of earnings, invoice for repair of your bicycle and receipts.
If your cycling accident claim is not at the stage capable of settlement, then your lawyers can send over the financial loss documents and request an interim payment for some items on the schedule of special damages. This will often help with any financial shortfall that the Claimant may be suffering.
Proof from medical experts about the cycling accident
As part of the protocol your solicitors will have to advise the defendant that you were injured and nominate to them a list of three independent medical experts. The Defendant has the opportunity to object to any of the nominated experts, but in doing so must give valid reasons. This part of the process normally runs smoothly and you as the Claimant will be unaware of what is going on in the background unless you wish to be specifically updated on a regular basis. Save for the most straightforward of cases, it is normally appropriate for the medical expert to have access to your medical notes and records.
Once a medical report has been disclosed both sides can ask the expert to provide answers to written questions on the report. This may be questions relating to your losses, the reasonableness of them, the reasonableness of any period off of work and further comments about rehabilitation such as physiotherapy and it’s cost. Where the Defendant admits liability, your lawyers must disclose the medical report and give the Defendants an opportunity to make a settlement offer. If your lawyers deem said offer to be unreasonable it may be that you are asked to consider a counter offer before issuing Court Proceedings. Most offers are made on a Part 36 of the civil procedure rules basis and are open for acceptance for 21 days. After this period the offer can be withdrawn or left open.
The Defendant can at any time make an offer in settlement. The offer can relate to the value of your claim or the issue of liability or both.
You can also put forward an offer to the Defendant. If the Defendant puts forward an offer which you reject and your case eventually settles either by negotiation or after a trial, then the Court can consider the offer in deciding who should be responsible for the legal costs of the action. The normal rule would be that if you do no better than the offer made then the other side would be awarded their legal costs. In the event that an offer is made your lawyers should provide you with full advice on this.
Your lawyers should advise you whether they think it is appropriate to put forward a settlement proposal on your behalf either before or after the Defendant has made an offer. This may well depend on specific facts of the case or the injuries that have been suffered. It may be that case that if your injuries are sever then it may not be appropriate to seek settlement of the claim. If under these circumstances the defendant makes a settlement offer your lawyers should consider it carefully and provide you with full advice before accepting or rejecting any such offer.
Taking it to the courts
On rare occasions the cycling accident claim will need to go to court. The document known as the “Particulars of Claim” will need to be completed which will contain full explanation of the basis of your claim and losses.
Even if court proceedings are issued, most cycling accident claims will still eventually settle before the need for a trial or hearing.
In April 2010 the Ministry of Justice introduced a new electronic claims process for claims valued under £10,000.00 which simplifies much of the above process for the most straightforward of claims.
Bringing a personal injury claim as a result of a cycling accident is as easy and hassle free as a good specialist lawyer can make it.
Any questions? Fire away in the comments..
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.