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.

Judges may start to penalise riders who decide not to wear a helmet on the roads

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.