The explosion of cycling activity on our roads in recent years has unfortunately resulted in a rise in the number of road accidents involving death and injury to cyclists. Nationally, in the 30 years between 1989-2018, nearly 50,000 road users lost their lives and 1,315 of them were cyclists (Road Crash Database). That figure does not include the number of cyclists who were injured, many of which may go unreported.
There are numerous statistics on the issue, but it is notable that the less populated regions have a disproportionately high number of casualties. As might be expected, fatalities are higher during the week than at weekends (particularly Mondays and Wednesdays), presumably due to the volume of traffic on the roads. This might also be attributable to the higher number of solo cyclists commuting during the week, whereas recreational cyclists tend to ride in highly visible groups at the weekend and during good road and visibility conditions.
So where does this leave those cyclists who are unlucky enough to be injured on our roads? Do they have the same rights as motorists to access treatment for their injuries? Are they entitled to compensation and, if so, on what basis?
Whilst cyclists do not have to pay any registration fees to ride (at least at the time of writing), they are nevertheless broadly entitled to use the same roads in the same way as motorists or motorcyclists. They must also observe the same set of rules as road users. The only real difference is that they may legally use footpaths and motorists must allow at least one metre of clear space when passing them in a 60 km/h zone or under and 1.5 metres where the speed limit is above 60 km/h: see Road Traffic Code 2000.
If a cyclist, travelling along an authorised road is knocked down and injured by a motorist, what rights do they have and what should they do?
The most important thing is to obtain as much information at the scene as possible. If the motorist has stopped, you should obtain their name, address, contact number, licence details and registration number. It would also help to take photos of the scene of the accident showing both vehicles in situ and the damage to them. You should also take photos of the road layout and obtain the contact details of any witnesses. You should also complete an online crash report as soon as reasonably practicable (Report Online Here).
If you are too injured to do this, or the driver has driven off, you should report the accident to the police and also complete an online crash report. This lets the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA) know not only that an accident has occurred but also that you are injured.
Once your claim has been investigated, ICWA will decide who was at fault. If you were not to fully to blame, they will cover you for any reasonable treatment expenses. They will also consider a loss of earnings claim where you are unable to work due to your injuries, subject to you being able to prove your losses. They will cover the cost of appointments with your GP and treating specialists and will also cover your medication and travel costs.
Eventually, if your injuries meet certain criteria, they will also pay you compensation for “pain and suffering and loss of amenity”. This basically means that once your injuries have stabilised, they will be assessed according to a statutory scale of compensation and you will be awarded a prescribed amount of money. The amount will depend upon the seriousness of your injuries, how long they may last, what ongoing treatment you may need and how they affect your work, recreational and social activities. There are many factors which will influence the amount of compensation you may receive, so it makes sense to get legal advice about what you are entitled to.
Lastly, if you are a cyclist and have been in an accident you may be able to make a claim to assist with your recovery.
With years of experience helping people in Perth and greater Western Australia make successful Personal Injury claims we are here and ready to help you. Simply call direct on 1300 855 121 to talk with one of our team or head to https://motorlegal.com.au/ and request a free consultation.
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