Members of Cycle Law Scotland have called for reforms to the claims system when cyclists are involved in accidents with motorists. The campaign group are seeking the presumption of liability against motorists in civil cases following figures from a Freedom of Information request revealing that only a small number of drivers get reported to prosecutors following an accident.
The reform of the system, which has been called for by numerous cycling campaigners, would see the onus on the driver of a larger vehicle to prove that they were not at fault for the accident. Under the current system presumed liability lies with cyclists. The liability in the vast majority of European countries lies with the driver of the bigger vehicle rather than the cyclist or pedestrian involved in the road traffic accident. Many groups are hoping that the UK bring in a similar procedure.
It is believed that this system would result in motorists and other drivers taking more care to look for cyclists and other road users, and in turn, reduce the number of accidents on the road.
The move for reform comes following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Police Scotland, which shows that in 2012, eight cyclists lost their life, with just under 900 seriously injured in collisions on the road. Alarmingly for campaigners, however, the FOI request showed that very few drivers were reported to the procurator fiscal.
According to Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland, only 44 drivers ended up being prosecuted despite the high number of injuries and accidents in Scotland. She believed that it was a failing of the criminal process that resulted in such a small number of drivers being reported. She said: “One of the arguments often used against a system of stricter liability for vulnerable road users is that the existing criminal law provides all the protection a cyclist or pedestrian needs.
“If drivers are regularly prosecuted for careless driving offences where cyclists have been injured, it might alter driver behaviours and at the same time protect cyclists and these figures suggest that simply is not the case.”
Police Scotland and the Scottish Government have defended the road safety record in Scotland and stated that despite the concerns of some campaigners, there is no evidence that a reform of the system would result in fewer accidents on Scotland’s roads.
The former head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stated that although the reform had the best interests of cyclists at heart, such reform could have wider consequences that could damage the legal system. Sir Keir Starmer warned that any assumptions regarding an accident prior to an investigation was a “very dangerous concept" to implement.
He said of the potential reform: "We have to be really careful with these concepts of presumed liability because what it means is, irrespective as it were of the real position, we'll presume something to be the position."
He added: "Once you shift our justice system to a system that's based on presumptions that somebody is in the wrong - without actually having to demonstrate they're in the wrong - you have a real difficulty."
Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two most dangerous areas in Scotland for cyclists. In Edinburgh alone, 60 cyclists were injured last year as a result of the new tram system.
If you are involved in an accident with a vehicle, it is important that you try and obtain as much evidence as possible while remaining safe. Try and note down the model of the car, the registration number, insurance details and the phone number of the driver and witnesses of the incident. While it is important to try and get all the details in order to make a claim, if you are injured or it is not safe, we urge you to get to safety then try and obtain some details.
Due to being a more vulnerable road user, cycling injuries can often be relatively severe. Even with safety equipment, cyclists involved in accidents can obtain serious head injuries, broken bones, severe lacerations or bruising and fractures. If you are involved in an accident that was not your fault, you have every right to hold those responsible to account for the damages and issues caused as a result of their negligence.
It is imperative if you are involved in an accident that you seek medical care. Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem, we urge you to get a medical examination. This will allow your injuries to be monitored and will give you peace of mind. Medical staff may also be able to provide an estimate of your recovery time and prescribe medication that will aid either in recovery or reduce the pain. This will also aid you when making a personal injury claim as the full extent of your injuries and recovery time can be shown.
Whether it be for the extent of your injuries, the damage done to your bike, or being unable to function in the workplace, or normally due to a lack of sleep, if you are involved in a collision on a bike you will be able to make a claim. When you first inquire our team of solicitors will inform you of what evidence is needed to make a personal injury claim. Our customer services representatives will be able to inform you roughly of what your claim could be worth, and what you can expect when making a claim.
At Lawford Kidd, we believe that if you are in an accident that is not your fault you deserve compensation. Therefore, we operate on a no win, no fee basis meaning that if you do not receive compensation you will not be required to pay for the legal services you received from our solicitors. If you are successful, we will take a small percentage of the compensation in order to cover our legal costs.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident or injured when cycling, our team of no win, no fee personal injury solicitors can help you get the compensation and closure you deserve. Contact our team today using our online contact form.