not wearing helmets – contributory negligence…

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  • not wearing helmets – contributory negligence…
  • http://www.bikebiz.com/news/30165/No-helmet-thats-contributory-negligence

    interesting situation this – does that mean that if you break your leg and it can be proved that you woudln’t have done if you were wearing full body armour, on your commute, you would not receive full compensation?

    interesting situation……

    STW comments please!

    helmets are a hot potato….I work as a cycling instructor in primary schools, and depending on which LEA a particular schools falls under the children may or may not have to wear a helmet. For example if I work within my own county I as the instructor MUST wear my helmet, but the children DO NOT have to, but if I work within a neighbouring county ALL children AND myself must wear a helmet. Even though I am aware of research that’s shows helmets may not necessarily offer protection in an accident, I always urge my trainees to wear a helmet, and I never use my bike without one.

    coffeeking
    Member

    Possibly because helmets are commonplace, cheap and very easy to get hold of, and already compulsory for motorbikes, which haven’t caused the problem of expecting people to wear body armour in god knows how many years of being the law. I see your point though, and I do think it should be personal choice to some degree. I’d want my kids wearing helmets, I certainly wouldnt want their instructor to tell them to take it off etc, but if a parent decided they thought the evidence showed helmets caused damage then thats their call.

    Helmets will always be an emotive issue. We’ll never have agreement across the board.

    glenp
    Member

    Outrageous situation! Totally faulty logic on the part of the judge and something we should, as cyclists, should speak out about! Car drivers often suffer head injuries – should they be wearing helmets? Stairs are dangerous – compulsory body armour needed?

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Not that outrageous shouldn’t be compulsory but by no wearing one you have to accept some increased risk of injury. Saying “ooh but car drivers don’t have to” is a pointless argument so many compulsory safety features have been added to cars over the years that could be argude as being the equivalent if you want go down that futile route.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    One interesting point which receives nary a mention in that Bikebiz story is that in this case, there was no reduction to the cyclist’s compensation. The court found that as the accident had happened at a speed of over 12 mph and the helmet didn’t cover the point of impact, as a result there was no indication that a helmet would have mimised or prevented her injuries.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    Er, this was the cause of much debate earlier in the week, when a better link (to a summary of the judgement) was posted by jakester.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    errrrr some people missed that.

    glenp
    Member

    No. It is completely outrageous. Cyclists have a right to be there. As do pedestrians. Drivers have a duty to give them room and not endanger them. Helmet is irrelevant.

    If the fault of the accident is shared then the situation is different, but if the cyclist was doing nothing wrong then he should not need to protect himself from something that should not happen.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    If the fault of the accident is shared then the situation is different, but if the cyclist was doing nothing wrong then he should not need to protect himself from something that should not happen.

    I’m not talking who’s to blame just by not wearing one you have to accept the increased risk of injury.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    (Note – I didn’t read the link, nor am I a lawyer)

    It can’t be contributory negligence in my book because the issue is with the car hitting the cyclist. The car should not have hit the cyclist, and the issue is whether or not the car driver is culpable. Helmets don’t come into it.

    However, I can imagine the compensation payment being reduced because the cyclist didn’t wear a helmet. If compensation is based on the injuries sustained, and the cyclist hadn’t taken what could be regarded as reasonable steps to protect their person (helmet wearing is commonplace and could be described as reasonable – body armour is not, at least not on road) then their decision made the injuries worse.

    IanMunro
    Member

    I’m not talking who’s to blame just by not wearing one you have to accept the increased risk of injury.

    Though how you ride rather than what you wear has a far greater increase on your risk of injury, but is far harder to quantify.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    molgrips – the issue isn’t whether or not the cyclist was hit, but what damages flow from that. The suggestion – though it isn’t binding law – is that, had one worn a helmet and it could be shown that it would have reduced the injury, the damages would be reduced by an amount.

    It’s a restatement of existing law, but with a twofold twist: (1) it’s not (yet) compulsory to wear a helmet and (2) there is an ongoing debate about the true protective effectivieness of them.

    glenp
    Member

    “I’m not talking who’s to blame just by not wearing one you have to accept the increased risk of injury.”
    The individual might accept that he might be hurt to a greater degree, but the level of negligence on the part of the cyclist is still nil.

    A friend of mine was killed by head injuries whilst crossing the road. Might have been better if she had been wearing a helmet, but that isn’t conventional so no-one will ever take that view.

    I wear a helmet (sometimes) to protect myself if I go down on the road, not to give drivers a slightly reduced responsibility for my safety.

    geetee1972
    Member

    The part that I think is most interesting is that the judge ruled it was not contributory negligence because the speed of impact was more than 12 mph and therefore wearing a helmet would have made little or no difference. Are helmets really that ineffective?

    OK I know it’s the speed with which your head hits the ground and that this will be very different from the speed you’re travelling at the time, but still, 12mph doesn’t seem like a terribly hard impact or is it?

    clubber
    Member

    “I’m not talking who’s to blame just by not wearing one you have to accept the increased risk of injury. “

    You don’t actually. I always wear a helmet and I believe that in the majority of situations that it does reduce the risk of me suffering a head injury. Several bits of research support my view.

    That said, I accept that there’s also research out there that contradicts my view and while I don’t agree, it’s possible that they are right and therefore, you can’t really PROVE categorically (or even on balance of probability) that a helmet reduces the risk of injury.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    It is completely outrageous. Cyclists have a right to be there. As do pedestrians. Drivers have a duty to give them room and not endanger them. Helmet is irrelevant.

    Before you wring your hands so much that they drop off, note this: there was no finding of contributory negligence by the cyclist. The court clearly stated that a helmet wouldn’t have made any difference in this case.

    In fact, based on this judgement (although it’s by no means certain that it’s going to be applied in future cases), the only time someone could be found liable for contributory negligence is a) if the accident happened at less than 12mph, and b) if the injury was one that a helmet could have prevented, i.e. a fairly specific type of head injury.

    There was a comparison drawn in this case between helmet wearing and seatbelt wearing (in the context that it didn’t used to be compulsory to wear seatbelts). I thought this was pretty apt, other people might feel it was flawed. However I don’t think this is going to open the floodgates for drivers to waltz off scot free after mowing down helmetless cyclists. That isn’t what happened here at all.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I wear a helmet (sometimes) to protect myself if I go down on the road, not to give drivers a slightly reduced responsibility for my safety.

    Exactly my point.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    You don’t actually.

    Why not if your not wearing gloves and you land on hands you have to accept that if you had been then you may have not got the gravel rash.

    glenp
    Member

    I wear a helmet (sometimes) to protect myself if I go down on the road, not to give drivers a slightly reduced responsibility for my safety.

    Exactly my point.
    __

    Eh?

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    Mr_Agreeable is, as ever, talking sense. This is almost precisely nothing to get our collective knickers all twisted up over.

    To the extent that you get hurt by someone else’s balls-up, and you aren’t wearing a helmet, and a helmet would have helped, then your ambulance-chasing-bloodsucking-parasite lawyer will not be able to claim quite as much money for your hurt feelings and whiplash as he otherwise would have done. 😉

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Eh?

    It’s clearly too complex for you so forget it.

    so what they are saying is that if you get knocked off by a car, the car driver is responsible only for injuries you *would* have sustained had you been wearing a helmet, and not those that can be proven would have been prevented by a helmet.

    Which is a seperate issue from determining any fines or penalty points for improper or dangerous driving etc.. So if somehow a helemt magically prevented 100% of injuries, the driver would still be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention etc..

    this seems reasonable to me. obviously its up to both sides to prove what affect a helmet would have.

Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)

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