Wear a helmet or be guilty of negligence!

Posted: February 5, 2009 in cycling, Road, Safety, Track
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A recent high court case in the UK where a cyclist and motorcyclist collided (Smith v Finch 2009), the judge ruled that the cyclist could have been found partly liable if wearing a helmet would have prevented or reduced his or her injuries. What this means is that cyclists who don’t wear helmets can be found guilty of contributory negligence if they are injured in a road accident in the UK. Ouch!

In an interview with BikeRadar, Richard Brooks from a UK law firm explained the ruling in that if you are injured and a cycle helmet could have reduced your injuries, you may not be able to recover full compensation.

He also added, “Cyclists who “expose themselves to a greater degree of injury” by not wearing a helmet can now be found to be negligent, even though it is not a legal requirement in the UK to wear head protection when cycling. However, for this to happen it would have to be proved – using medical and other evidence – that a helmet would have prevented all of their injuries or made them a good deal less severe.”

Interesting judgement this and one I’m sure will be opening up debates amongst cyclists. That said,I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below.

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Comments
  1. TWood says:

    I have to say that I completely agree. It’s a fact that wearing a helmet can reduce the trauma to your brain in an accident and potentially save your life in some severe instances. Drivers get the same treatment as this if they’re in an automobile accident and were found to have not been wearing their seat belt. It seems fair to say the same should apply to cyclists just as it does to motorcyclists. (Though I am a fan of Darwinism, so I suppose it could be seen as natural selection…)

  2. Chris Lee says:

    I think it’s fair enough. As someone who’s commuted in London by bike for five years (averaging 18 miles a day) I think you’re nuts NOT to wear a helmet. Luckily, I’ve only needed it once but I’d have been out cold (or worse) without it.

    I’ve heard Parisians have a particular problem with wearing helmets as it’s not seen as chic or fashionable, whereas here in Spain, where I now live, they ALL wear skin-tight sports gear, helmets and shades.

  3. Alex Murray says:

    In Spain you are required to wear a helmet by law, unless you are a professional, that’s why they all wear them.

    Likewise, motorists are required by law to wear a seatbelt and motorcyclists are required by law to wear a crash helmet. There is no such obligation in law for cyclists to wear a helmet.

    The judge also seems to have made clear that contributory negligence could only come into play where evidence is presented to support the case. A half decent lawyer should almost always be able to argue against it. In this case it was on the grounds of impact speed exceeding that at which a helmet is proven to reduce injury (the old 12mph level) and the nature of the injuries.

    Helmets are not going to protect you from spinal injuries, torsional injuries or anything else other than head trauma.

  4. John Car says:

    I cycle throughout the year in southern Spain. I always wear a crash helmet. I do not see any reason to support the argument that ‘it’s too hot to wear one.’ At the age of 19 I was involved in a crash whilst riding a motorcycle. Having been thrown from the bike head first into a tree, I was unconscious for about 12 hours. Although it was not the law to wear a crash helmet, I always did so, had I not, I would have died at age 19. I am now 69.

  5. news says:

    Wanted to drop a remark and let you know your Rss feed is not functioning today. I tried including it to my Google reader account but got absolutely nothing.

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