What to do when you’ve been hit by a motorist: a legal how-to for cyclists

Guest Feature from locally based Ramsdens Solicitors

Cycling is an excellent way to get out and about, both in terms of travelling from A to B and purely as an enjoyable form of outdoor exercise. At a time when more people than ever are worrying about being trapped sitting indoors, the ability to get out and about on your bike has never been more valuable or beneficial.

However, as with any type of road travel, cycling is not without its risks, often in the form of dangerous or inattentive driving on the part of motorists. At best, this kind of behaviour can result in stressful situations and the need for evasive action; at worst, it can result in the cyclist being injured through no fault of their own.

If this happens to you or someone you know, you can rest assured that legal support is available to help you seek recourse for the accident and potentially claim some compensation for any injuries or damage caused. To get the best possible outcome, you will need to have the presence of mind to pull together all the information you’ll need to prove your case, starting from the moment the accident takes place.

To guide you through this process, the legal experts at Ramsdens Solicitors in Yorkshire have put together a how-to guide on exactly what to do when you’ve been hit by a motorist. By following these steps, you’ll be able to put together a strong case.

Immediate actions to take

If you’ve just been hit by a car, it can be hard to think clearly in the immediate aftermath; even if you haven’t sustained any serious injury, getting your thoughts together can take a little while due to the shock of it all.

That’s why the first and most important step to take is to make sure that you’re safe. If at all possible, get yourself out of the road, whether by moving to a footpath or the side of a kerb; if you are unable to move straight away for any reason, then you should instead try to make yourself as visible as possible, calling for the attention and help of passersby to ensure that other road users are able to slow down and avoid the scene of the accident.

Once you’ve made sure you’re not in immediate danger, you should contact the police, as they will play an important role in putting together a report of the incident and overseeing the exchange of details. If anyone has been hurt, you should also call an ambulance so that any injuries can be treated as soon as possible.

Gathering the details

Once these steps have been taken, you will need to start collecting the information you require to build your case. As with any road accident, this should start by exchanging personal details and insurance information with the driver or drivers involved.

Many cyclists do not have insurance cover of their own, but motorists will always be insured as a legal requirement, and it is essential to make a note of this information. It may be advisable for cyclists to get some third-party cover of their own – as can be obtained through a Cycling UK membership – to provide additional protection.

While you are still on the scene, gather together as many details about the incident as you can. This naturally includes noting down basic facts such as the model and registration numbers of the cars involved, but also taking photos of the surrounding area and road conditions, including signage and road markings. If you have your own helmet camera, this could prove very helpful, as could any available CCTV evidence that you request from the police.

You should also take this opportunity to speak to some witnesses and get their accounts of what happened. This is particularly essential if you’re dealing with a hit-and-run driver who flees the scene of the accident, as these witness statements will prove vital in making your claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, who will pay out even if the driver cannot be traced.

Presenting your evidence

When you are away from the scene of the accident, it will be time to start pulling together all of the evidence you’ve gathered. It is worth taking the time to write down your account of the accident – this might mean requesting a copy of the police report to cross-check the details, or making a sketch of what happened on the road.

Whether you feel you were seriously injured in the accident or not, it should be a priority to visit the doctor for a checkup, as you may have experienced an injury that you did not immediately notice. You should also review all of the damage to your property – including the bike, your helmet and your clothing – and keep receipts that highlight any losses you’ve incurred, whether this be money spent on replacements or costs associated with lost earnings and medical treatments.

Getting the right support

With all of this evidence on your side, you should have what you need to put together a strong case. At this stage, the best thing you can do is to seek out legal advice from a solicitor with experience in representing those involved in cycling accidents.

Working with a qualified solicitor, you will be able to make a compelling legal argument for compensation, based on the details you have provided. It may be possible, for example, to prove that the motorist was driving carelessly and negligently; the evidence may also reveal that the driver was under the influence of a substance, or was exceeding the speed limit at the time.

Even if the driver themselves was not at fault, your photos and first-hand account may reveal that the accident was caused by unclear road markings, or by a dangerous pothole. If this is the case, you might be able to seek compensation from the local authority responsible for the road.

No matter what the circumstances may be, it will be up to your lawyers to assemble the clearest possible picture of the incident from the available evidence and testimonies, and build the strongest possible case for you. This will give you the best chance of securing a favourable outcome.

In an ideal world, no cyclist should ever have to experience this kind of danger and stress at the hands of their fellow road users – but it’s nevertheless good to know there’s plenty that bike users can do to help themselves and find the right support when an accident does happen.

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