Cyclists are vulnerable road users with much less protection than motorists. UK roads are notoriously dangerous and accidents involving cyclists are unfortunately common. Head injuries are often the most common accident claim.
Yet, did you know, the law in the UK doesn’t make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets?
Simply put, this means you won’t be stopped by police for not wearing a helmet while cycling. This being said it is widely agreed that wearing a helmet is much safer than not wearing one and this is the general view taken by most Courts.
Rule 59 of the Highway Code identifies cyclists as vulnerable road users and recommends that cyclists ‘should wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened’.
The Highway Code is relevant to both criminal and civil law. Claims for personal injury compensation are classed as civil claims so the Highway Code is both relevant and recognised. Even though there is no legislation requiring cyclists to wear helmets it may affect the amount of compensation awarded if you were injured in a cycling accident whilst not wearing a helmet.
It is likely that a Defendant will argue that the injuries you sustained would have been less severe if you had been protected by a helmet. Many Courts will agree and reduce the compensation you are awarded by citing the lack of a helmet as contributory negligence.
It is no wonder then that many cyclists are reluctant to make a claim for compensation, worried that failure to wear a helmet will go against them.
Not wearing a helmet will not prevent you from having a claim for personal injury compensation, but it may lead to a finding of contributory negligence against you.
In the 1980’s the UK law requiring all drivers to wear seatbelts was introduced. Considering the vital protection that helmets provide, it is a wonder why the law hasn’t changed in this way for cyclists too.
Nevertheless, if you are involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault you could have a claim for compensation – Helmet or no helmet.