ROAD SAFETY - IN DEPTH
The Government’s new Road Safety Act has now been passed and the CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation has dubbed it “a missed opportunity to make a real difference for all vulnerable road users”.
MPs chose to overlook measures that would improve safety on our roads, such as a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas, and a lower drink-drive limit. Moreover, the new Act does nothing to address legal inconsistencies regarding bad driving offences, making it very hard to secure convictions for the more serious dangerous driving offences.
The knock-on effect of this for cyclists is an increased vulnerability on the roads. With the potentially hazardous winter weather conditions ahead accidents are a substantial risk that we must consider.
According to the Department of Transport, 15,000 cyclists in the UK are involved in accidents on the road each year. A substantial amount of these injuries result in hospital admittance.
A well-briefed brief
With this in mind, it is important to contact the right legal help if the worst happens. Understanding case law relating to cycling is a key function of solicitors who represent cyclists, so it is important that cyclists select a solicitor who understands this area.
A specialist solicitor should also understand the medical issues involved in a cycling accident. According to the Department of Transport, 50 per cent of reported injuries involve the head, and even if the injury is technically considered minor, it can lead to significant damage to cognitive functions, speech or memory.
Initially it may seem that the accident has not affected your brain, but when you return to work several months later, you could find yourself unable to do the job you used to. This could result in a loss of earnings. A specialist lawyer would ensure this was avoided by immediately actioning a case, to ensure all the right evidence is gathered and any rehabilitation is implemented quickly.
Ex-racer David Standard suffered a cycling related accident that put an end to his competition days. He says: “I spent six weeks in hospital and three months in rehabilitation. While I was in hospital it was a great relief to know things were being sorted out by my lawyer, as there were disputes as to whose fault it was. It’s important to get a specialist lawyer and the right legal advice in these cases.”
Lawyer Paul Breen at Serious Law recalls one cycling case: “A 24-year-old clerk in a shipping company was leaving work and was struck by a car when crossing a roundabout. He suffered a fractured skull, an increased risk of epilepsy and cognitive problems, which resulted in him being unable to carry out his former job. He wasn’t wearing a helmet when the accident happened and the driver’s insurance company tried to negotiate a payment cut because of this.
“As specialist lawyers we investigated if wearing a helmet would have made any difference in this particular case to the injuries sustained. Since the injury was at the base of his neck at the top of his spine, a panel of experts deemed that a helmet would not have prevented his injuries. In fact, there is a risk he would have choked from the neck strap.
“It is unlikely that a non-specialist lawyer would have investigated this to such an extent and may have accepted a cut in his payment. We made sure he was given care and rehabilitation. He’s now half-way through a computer course hoping to go into IT, instead of being another unemployed statistic.”
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