Driver is claiming against me

Driver is claiming against me

Judge's gavel and documents
I’ve been in a traffic incident and would like to understand the potential consequences. It happened on an unregulated intersection. I was riding straight on and an oncoming driver was turning right. My bike is damaged, as is the car – his front bumper and left door. Luckily, a police car was passing by and stopped. I have a CAD number, the driver’s details, and a photo of his car showing the number plate. I don’t know what the police registered in their files.

Can the driver file a claim against me? If so, what I can do to protect myself?

Kat (via the Cycling UK forum)

Under Sec 170 (1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a motorist is under a statutory duty to stop and give information or documents when ‘an accident occurs by which–

(a) personal injury is caused to a person… or

(b) damage is caused–

(i) to a vehicle… or

(ii) to an animal (defined as cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog)… or

(iii) to any other property…

(2) The driver must stop and, if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give his name and address and also the name and address of the owner and the identification marks of the vehicle.

(3) If for any reason the driver does not give his name and address under subsection (2) above, he must report the accident.

(4) A person who fails to comply with subsection (2) or (3) above is guilty of an offence.’

Sec 170 does not apply to cyclists (or pedestrians) who may cause a collision. There is, of course, no legal obligation for a cyclist or a pedestrian to have third-party insurance. (There is a body of opinion that advocates that all cyclists should be obliged to have third-party insurance and registration numbers for their bikes. This would, in my view, be unworkable, disproportionate to the risk that cyclists cause to other road users, impossible to police, and would result in a significant reduction of cycle journeys.)

Notwithstanding the lack of legal obligation, I recommend that all regular cyclists have a policy of third-party legal insurance. Cycling UK members have £10 million of third-party insurance cover included with their membership. This is a valuable benefit, which offers peace of mind should a claim be made against a member.

Here are my top 10 tips for cyclists who have been involved in a collision:

1. Exchange names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers with the other party.

2. Obtain the registration number of the vehicle. (This is the most important piece of information. We can use it to pursue a claim as we can identify the vehicle insurer through the Motor Insurer’s Database by entering the registration number.)

3. Obtain details of make, model and colour of the vehicle.

4. Obtain names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses.

5. If possible, obtain photographic evidence of the position of the vehicle(s).

6. Report the incident to the police without delay. If the police attend the scene of the incident, obtain details of name, serial number and station of the officer(s), as well as the CAD reference.

7. If you were using a helmet camera, do not wipe the film! We can use this in evidence in both criminal and civil proceedings.

8. If you were injured, seek medical attention.

9. Remain calm and don’t get drawn into discussion with the other party about who was at fault for the collision.

10. If injured, contact Cycling UK’s legal helpline telephone: 0844 736 8452. If the collision was your fault, and injury or loss was caused to another person, report this as a potential claim through the helpline.

On the basis of the description of the collision reported by Kat, it would appear that the motorist was at fault. Even though the motorist is likely to have been completely at fault for this collision, this needs to be reported to Cycling UK’s insurers through the legal helpline.

Paul Kitson

​Partner from Slater and Gordon Lawyers

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