Cherry Allan's picture

Compensation for injured cyclists

The rules about liability for road crashes need to be changed to make it easier and quicker for cyclists and pedestrians to be compensated if they are injured in collisions with motor vehicles.
Cycling in traffic
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling causes little harm to others and it is not a hazardous activity. However, the actions of those engaged in a hazardous activity (i.e. driving), can put cyclists at risk.
  • While most drivers are generally considerate, the fact remains that non-motorised road users are disproportionately affected by road crashes and the compensation process is often complex and protracted.
  • This imbalance could be corrected by introducing ‘presumed liability’ (also known as ‘stricter liability’). This is the legal presumption made in civil law that injured cyclists and pedestrians are entitled to compensation from drivers who hit them, unless the victim was obviously at fault. ‘Presumed liability’ has been adopted by most west European countries.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • The UK should introduce ‘presumed liability’ rules to compensate cyclists and pedestrians for road crash injuries, as is normal in most west European countries. They should be entitled to full compensation from the driver’s insurance unless the driver (or in practice their lawyers/insurers) can show that the injury was caused by the cyclist or pedestrian behaving in a way that fell well below the standard that could be expected of them, taking account of their age, abilities and the circumstances of the collision.
  • Findings of ‘contributory negligence’ – i.e. a partial reduction in compensation where the injured party is at least partly at fault – should be exceptional, and certainly not be found against cyclists for: riding without a helmet; riding without high visibility clothing; not using a cycle facility; or for mere technical breaches of the Highway Code’s non-statutory rules for cyclists.
  • Particularly vulnerable people (e.g. children, the elderly and those with learning or physical disabilities), should receive full compensation from the driver’s insurance in any event, unless they evidently wanted to harm themselves.
  • Passing any proportion of the legal costs of pursuing compensation to the innocent victim of a road crash is unfair and wrong. The objective of damages in these cases should be to provide full compensation for injured people both for their injuries and financial losses. They are also a way of holding the person who caused the injury to account.
  • Taking out third party liability insurance is a sensible precaution for regular cyclists, but it should not be compulsory for everyone wanting to cycle.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
June 2013
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  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541


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