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Cycle Helmets and the Law

I have been commuting on my bicycle in London for over 10 years.  I have noticed a significant increase in the number of cycle journeys and also a much higher percentage of cyclists wearing cycle helmets. 

There is a rule written in the Highway Code which states that cyclists should wear "a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened". This is not of course a legal requirement to wear a helmet but notwithstanding this, insurers regularly argue that there should be a finding of contributory negligence in cases where a bare headed cyclist sustains a head injury.

In January 2009 a cycling accident claim was resolved.  Mr Justice Griffith Williams stated that "the cyclist who does not wear a helmet runs the risk of contributing to his/her injuries."  However, it was concluded that the injuries that the cyclist suffered would have been as serious even if he had been wearing a helmet.

What is clear is that it is for the Defendants to prove that the wearing of a cycle helmet would have made a difference. Cycle helmets are only designed to provide protection in low speed crashes of under 12 miles per hour.  In practice, it is often difficult for the Defendants to prove what us PI lawyers call "causation".

Paul Kitson is a Principal Lawyer in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers, and also head of the Personal Injury department. Paul specialises in cycling accident claims. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.

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