Can A Cyclist Be Sued If They Cause An Accident?

Cyclist cycling on phone
It's important to know your responsibilities to other road users

Last updated: 8 April 2024

Other road users suing cyclists is both a rare event and rarely successful (more often than not the roles are reversed) but that doesn’t mean cyclists are safe from legal consequences if found at fault.

Accidents, collisions and crashes on the road are more often than not a result of negligence. But what is negligence, and can you be sued by a driver even if you’re injured in the collision? Your questions are answered in this article.

To protect you in the event of a claim against you from a third-party consider a dedicated cycling insurance policy - and make sure you add-on public liability.

What is negligence?

Negligence is, in essence, the failure to take appropriate care under a specified set of circumstances, in this case as a cyclist on the road.

If an allegation of negligence can be proven on anyone’s part, be it the rider, driver, pedestrian or even local road maintenance, and the other party suffers a loss (physical injury, harm to property or economic loss) as a result, then the other party generally has a right to damages in the form of monetary compensation.

So yes, the simple answer is that you can be sued for causing an accident...

In the event that an action is brought against you, you’ll likely be negotiating with the third party’s insurance company or, in certain circumstances, with the third party individual themselves.

The matter will focus on whether you were cycling negligently and whether your negligence was responsible for the third party's loss. If the two parties can’t settle the dispute between themselves (or their lawyers), there is likely to be court action required to determine it.

Are claims against cyclists common?

Thankfully, third party claims against cyclists are rare, but they do happen and they can be costly if you're uninsured.

In 2019, cyclist Robert Hazeldean was found to be jointly negligent for a collision he had with a pedestrian on a busy street in central London in 2015.

The pedestrian was looking at their phone at the time of the collision. The pedestrian was awarded damages and Hazeldean was left with an enormous bill for their legal costs as well. Hazeldean did not have third party liability insurance.

Examples of cyclist negligence

Cycling accident

It’s important to remember where we stand on a road. As cyclists we are individuals in thin clothes surrounded by people in big metal boxes with engines. So, let’s be honest, even if a cyclist hits a car, the cyclist will likely be worse off.

That said, there are plenty of situations in which a cyclist could be deemed to be negligent, including:

  • Riding in a dangerous manner and knowingly not following the rules of the road
  • Riding recklessly among pedestrians
  • Skipping a red light
  • Riding against traffic
  • Not giving way

If you see yourself or your actions in that list, it’s well worth familiarising yourself with what’s legal and what’s not as a cyclist on the road with the Highway Code.

What do I do at the scene?

It’s important to consult professional legal advice before negotiating with a third party’s insurance company. Like any road accident that causes injury or damage it is recommended that you stop and swap insurance details with the other road user.

This is a potentially volatile part of the process, so it’s important to stay calm, talk through what you’re doing and be sure to obtain vital information like the location of the incident, names and email addresses, then exchange things like the car’s number plate, your bike’s serial number and details of any other witnesses to the accident.

These details are important evidence for both the insurance company and police in the event of an accident report. You should not discuss with the other party with respect to liability and who’s at fault.

Pedalsure’s third party liability insurance

Third party liability insurance is an optional addition to our polices that is sensible to consider if you ride on a daily basis. It provides cover against damage to persons or property when you are the one who is at fault.

Our policies offer our customers the choice of up to £1 million in liability cover. It pays to be with Pedalsure when it comes to third party liability insurance as it’s not always granted by other cycling organisations that you may be part of, such as British Cycling.

What we cover

As always, it's important to check your policy wording for the full details as to what's covered (and what's not) but if you have added third liability insurance to your policy Pedalsure will reimburse you up to an amount shown in your policy schedule for amounts you become legally liable to pay as compensation (including the claimants’ costs and expenses) occurring during the period of insurance arising from the use of any bike for accidental:

  • Death, bodily injury or illness of any person, or
  • Accidental Damage to material property not belonging to you or in your custody or control.

If an accident is proven to be a result of your negligence, it’s good to know that someone’s fighting your corner, and that’s what Pedalsure is here for. To find out more about the specifics of our insurance policies, have a read of our policy document.

And don't forget - when you take out cover with Pedalsure, you can get big discounts on a range of high-security locks from our friends at Hiplok.

Just one of many ways we protect both you and your bike.


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