Published: 28th Mar 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

What to do after a crash on the road

Worried about your rights should you be involved in a road traffic accident? Fear not – Diane Cooper from our partners Digby Brown has penned a great article that tells you what you need to know should you suffer a cycling accident

There can be many reasons why the police do not take any action against a motorist after a collision or incident. It might be down to lack of corroborative evidence or it might be a resource issue. Another reason might be that the police have been unable to trace the driver.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you do not need the police to be involved to make a cycling injury claim. Indeed, in the majority of cycling accidents that we see, and succeed with, the police took no action against the driver.

Police evidence is of course vital for a criminal prosecution, however a civil case is built around the facts, combining objective liability evidence with expert medical evidence.

Another important point to remember is the standard of proof in a personal injury civil case is a lower standard than in criminal law. The criminal standard is that a case must be proven “beyond reasonable doubt,” however in a civil case the pursuing party requires to prove their case is “more likely than not” to have occurred as they say it had. Therefore, in a civil cycling action the injured party (or, specifically, their legal team) is required to prove on balance of probabilities that the driver of the vehicle failed to take reasonable care for the cyclist who is of course deemed to be a vulnerable road user.

Whilst we would always recommend that a cyclist does report a collision or a close pass to the police, it is by no means a crucial requirement to proceed with a civil cycling case. Sure, a police investigation or criminal prosecution can be helpful as it can open the door to other forms of evidence such as formal statements of eyewitnesses and parties, recovery of forensic evidence and recording of the scene. Whilst this in turn can make it easier to argue liability, your legal team will usually be able to recover evidence after the event in support of your claim.

Camera footage/CCTV can be invaluable. As can photographs of the scene of the accident, road layout and markings, vehicle damage, debris on the road and landing points of the bike, car and person. Eyewitness statements to the accident itself, immediately before the accident or its aftermath can provide crucial information towards the building of your case. Medical evidence that proves your injuries – and can be shown to be consistent with the other physical evidence that shows how the crash or incident unfolded – can also be instrumental for any claim.

The key message then is that it’s still wise to report any collision or incident to the police but it is most certainly not the end of the road if they take no further action.

Hit and Runs

We mentioned earlier that another scenario that commonly results in no police action is where drivers cannot be traced. However, there is still a route to securing compensation.

The Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) is a UK scheme set up in 1946 to compensate the victims of negligent uninsured and untraced motorists. Every insurer underwriting compulsory motor insurance is obliged to be a member of the MIB and to contribute to the scheme. The MIB is a fund of last resort and will consider claims for injury (and in untraced driver cases, claims for property damage) where compensation cannot be recovered from another source. As mentioned above, this is generally when the driver who caused the collision could not be traced or where the third party driver had no insurance.

It should be highlighted that in a scenario involving an untraced driver, an injured party is required to report the incident to the police as soon as is reasonably practicable and to cooperate with police enquiries. In addition, the injured party/ their legal team are required to undertake due diligence via the police/DVLA /engage with witnesses to establish the identity of the third party driver/vehicle and/or their road traffic insurers.

It is vital to note that the MIB does not just compensate motorists – ALL road users such as pedestrians and cyclists can make a claim with the scheme if they were injured by an uninsured or untraced driver. The MIB in some circumstances may even consider issues such as fuel spills on the road. It should be highlighted that whilst the entity of the compensator may differ, the challenges of the process are the same – namely that the claimant still has to meet the standard of proof required of a civil claim.

At Digby Brown, we have decades of experience – and a proven track record – of helping people who were injured when it wasn’t their fault. Our job is to help cyclists recover physically, financially and emotionally with the aim of getting you back to doing what you love.

Diane Cooper, Partner

Digby Brown Solicitors