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Wearing A Helmet & Damages Claim

Dear Brian

I was recently involved in a road accident where I was in a collision with a cyclist. He was not wearing a helmet. Not so long ago a friend of mine was in an accident in a car and he was not wearing his seatbelt. He lost 25% of his damages. Will the same happen to the cyclist even if the accident was not his fault at all?



Dear Richard

You pose an interesting question. For some time now the law has been that not wearing a seatbelt makes a difference to the compensation. Where the injuries would have been prevented altogether by wearing a seatbelt, compensation is reduced by 25%. Where the evidence is that a seatbelt would have made a considerable difference, the compensation is reduced by 15%. There may be small variations on this. For example, in one case there was a 20% reduction where the Claimant would have sustained significantly less severe facial injuries had she worn a seatbelt.

Cycle helmets are a little more complicated. Rule 59 of the Highway Code states that “you should wear … a cycle helmet which conforms to correct regulations”. Note the use of the word “should”. That is not the same as “must”. Scientific opinion on the value of cycle helmets is split. They are generally designed to withstand low-impact falls or collisions but offer minimal protection, particularly to the side of the head, and can be useless in serious accidents. They can protect the crown of the head, particularly when a cyclist is thrown over the handlebars. For a cyclist to lose part of their damages there has to be evidence that wearing a helmet would have prevented or at least reduced the injuries sustained. If it can be shown that a helmet might have reduced or avoided injury to the cyclist, a finding of contributory negligence of 20% to 25% might be appropriate.


Brian Barr

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

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