Wearing a helmet is not mandatory when out and about on a bike – but the outcomes of various accident claim cases have indicated that the law believes it should be.
Two court rulings which have occurred in recent years have suggested that judges may start to penalise riders who decide not to wear a helmet on the roads.
In a civil case in 2009, a cyclist was held responsible for a head injury he suffered after a judge ruled that it might have been prevented by a helmet.
In a more recent criminal case, a judge imposed a suspended sentence over a fatal crash, commenting that the fact the cyclist victim was helmetless at the time was “a mitigating factor”.
Should helmetless cyclists shoulder some of the blame if they sustain a head injury in an accident caused by another party? Should motorists receive a lighter punishment in this event?
Experts argue cyclists shouldn’t have to wear helmets
Withy King solicitor and cyclist Mark Hambleton noted that the benefits of wearing a helmet have not been proven and there are “various lobbies for and against wearing helmets at present”.
He highlighted a belief that motorists assume cyclists wearing helmets are well protected and therefore exercise less caution when driving around them.
Dr Walker, a psychologist who has studied cycle safety and perceptions with experiments of his own, said: “The judgement also ignores some very important moral points. For example, if you take some of the blame for your injuries because you didn’t wear a helmet when I drive a car into you, surely you should also take some blame if I attack you with a knife and you were not wearing a stab vest?
“There is no logical difference between those two situations. Yes, it feels different emotionally, but that’s because we can all imagine a chain of events in which we hit somebody with our cars, whereas we can’t imagine ever stabbing somebody.
“But for the victim it’s exactly the same – in both examples they are being made to take responsibility for harm that somebody inflicted on them without their consent.”
Lampkin & Co Solicitors can pursue an injury claim on your behalf if you were involved in an accident and negligence or blame can be proved to lie elsewhere.