Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence


Road traffic accidents –  reducing the number of car and bike accidents

UK Road Safety Week will be happening from 9-15 June 2014 with the theme of “Be Safe Out There”, encouraging all road users, whether drivers, pedestrians or cyclists to look after each other and to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities on our roads.

One target group for raising awareness amongst road users is cyclists, and the Courts have always recognised that cyclists have a particular vulnerability when confronted with the negligent driving of others. The most recent statistics obtained by RoSPA in 2012 make for shocking reading. In that year 13 children and 105 adults lost their lives in cycling related incidents, and a total of 3,222 people sustained serious injuries. The total number of people injured or killed was 19,091. RoSPA consider that even these horrific figures are an underestimate as they only include matters reported to the police. It is also the case that around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist incidents occur in urban areas. For teenage and adult cyclists the most likely cause of incidents is collisions with motor vehicles, and tragically in a quarter of fatal cases the collision is when the front of vehicle hits the rear of the bicycle, and in most of these cases the accident could have been avoided by safe and careful driving. Simply slowing down, being aware of cyclists and anticipating their presence on the road has the potential to save someone’s life!

If someone does sustain serious injuries in a cycling incident, then in claiming compensation to fund rehabilitation, improve quality of life and provide for other losses, the Courts tend to have considerable sympathy with cyclists given their vulnerability. However, the circumstances of the accident will need to be examined to see if blame for the accident lies with another road user. There are often claims for cyclists who are injured when someone has opened a door into their path, and the Court of Appeal in the case of Burridge v Airwork said that each case must be looked at on its own facts, but that the cyclist was not negligent for not allowing enough space for the possibility of a negligently opened door – in other words the cyclist had a right to assume that the car driver would take reasonable care to check for the presence of bikes before trying to get out of the vehicle. A number of cases involve drivers pulling out from a side road into the path of a cyclist which they failed to see, and even (in a case of Richards v Quinton) a cyclist was able to show that a driver was partly to blame for an accident for failing to keep a proper lookout when pulling from a side road even though the cyclist happened to be travelling the wrong way down a cycle path.

The message that comes out from all of these cases in that these incidents were all avoidable, and serious injuries and fatalities can be prevented simply by everyone using the road looking out for each other. That is why Clarke Willmott is supporting Road Safety Week and raising awareness for the concept of “Be Safe Out There” with all of who use the roads taking that little bit more care to look after each other.

If you require any advice in relation to a road traffic accident please contact Phil Edwards in our Birmingham office.