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As a cyclist, you would be aware of the dangers that you face every time you choose to hop on your bike, with the statistics demonstrating a very real possibility of facing injury. 

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In fact, in Australia each year, an average of almost 40 cyclists are hit by a car and killed, while more than 1,000 suffer serious injuries on Australian public roads. While attitudes towards cyclists are shifting, the fact remains that the roads are still a hazard for cyclists, and bicycle accidents are still far too common.

If you have been injured in a road accident with a car, truck, motorbike or other vehicle you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and loss of earnings. Speak to an accident lawyer who specialises in personal injury today to find out more about what you may be entitled to.

As cyclists are so vulnerable on the road, getting hit by a car or vehicle while riding has the potential to cause serious injury. While hospitalisation for car accidents has been falling in recent decades, the number of hospitalisations among bicycle riders has been rising.

Can you sue for loss of earnings and other costs if you get hit by a car on a bike?

Bicycle hit by a car

Yes, absolutely, provided that the collision was the fault of the driver. Every vehicle registered to drive on the road in Queensland has compulsory third party (CTP) insurance which is built in to the cost of registration. 

This insurance is specifically to cover the personal injury loss or damage caused by a driver who is at-fault. What this means is that if you are hit by a car, you can make a claim for the costs of your injuries and any other loss suffered through the driver’s CTP insurance provider.

Example: 

Donna is cycling to see a friend. She is travelling along the road in the bike lane when a car driven by Jason swerves into the bike lane, clipping her tyre. Donna is thrown from her bike and breaks her arm. She is unable to work for three months and requires hospitalisation and physiotherapy to recover from her injury. 

Donna would be able to claim against Jason’s CTP insurance provider for the costs of her medical expenses and her loss of income.

While you can go through the process of claiming for the costs of your injuries on your own, it is often wise to seek legal advice, especially early on. A lawyer who is experienced in personal injury law will be able to take the steps needed to ensure you receive the appropriate compensation for the injury and loss suffered. 

After all, you will likely be dealing with the consequences of your injuries (such as loss of income and pain from your injuries) and may need some support to get through what can be a difficult time.

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What to do if you get hit by a car when cycling?

Getting hit by a car while cycling is a huge fear for most cyclists. You are so vulnerable on your bike and it’s often the case that vehicles simply do not see, or do not pay sufficient attention, to cyclists on the roads. If you have been involved in a collision with a vehicle the first thing you need to do is to, if possible, call 000 and report the incident if you have been injured.

If possible, other steps include:

  • Exchange details with the driver of the vehicle, including getting the registration plate of the other vehicle
  • Take pictures of the accident scene
  • Get the details of any witnesses if possible (witnesses may assist you in any claim for compensation as they can help you to verify your version of events)
  • Call a friend or family member for assistance with moving your bike to a safe location

Common cycling accident injuries

Cycling injuries commonly result from falling from your bike. As a result, cycling injuries are often serious. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported in 2019 that some of the most common cycling accidents include:

Of the injuries sustained by cyclists, the majority were upper limb fractures such as wrists and arms.

With so many people working in jobs where they are required to operate computers or use their hands, a cycling injury to the wrist or arm would certainly cause issues with work and capacity to earn an income. 

Making a claim for an injury caused by a cycling accident is critical to ensuring your peace of mind, and to ensure that you are adequately compensated by the at fault driver’s insurance for any loss and damage you may have suffered.

Common causes of accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles

It is common knowledge among the cycling community that there are road users who are less than friendly to cyclists. Indeed, while there are plenty of respectful road users, the fact remains that, as a cyclist, you always have to be on the lookout for a punishment pass or dooring. With this in mind, some of the most common causes of accidents between cyclists and vehicles include:

  • Failure to see a cyclist in a bike lane or at a crossing
  • Dooring - where a road user does not look before opening their car door and hits a cyclist who is riding in the bike lane.

Time limits for bicycle injury claims

When you are injured in Queensland there are certain legal time limits that apply, and which dictate when you can make a claim for compensation. Generally, if you have been injured you have three years from the date of your injury to commence your claim for compensation. In very limited cases it is possible to seek an extension of this time. It is important that you seek legal advice as soon as reasonable when injured, to ensure that you are able to move forward with your claim.

However, if your bicycle injury claim arises because of a hit and run accident (and no one is able to assist you in identifying the at fault vehicle) then you only have 9 months from the date of the incident to notifying the Nominal Defendant (the body responsible for responding to claims brought against unidentified vehicles). This time limit is absolute and cannot be extended even by a court.

Because of the time limits that apply, it is important you take legal advice as soon as possible.

How long do bicycle injury claims take?

A claim will generally take between 12-18 months, but will vary depending on a range of factors, and the length of time for your claim will vary depending on the complexity of your case.

Things like the liability for the accident, the seriousness and/or complexity of injuries, the rate and stage of recovery, can all play a role in the length of time for your bicycle injury claim.

What can you claim for as part of a cycling injury claim?

When injured in a bicycle accident you will be able to claim for personal injury loss or damage suffered. This includes compensation for:

  • Loss of earnings (past and future)
  • Medical and hospital expenses (including rehabilitation)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Modifications and/or help you require at home

When assessing your compensation, assessors will look at the path your life would have taken without the injury and will assess how the accident has altered your life in the future.

Example: 

Marcus is a promising aviation mechanic who is in his final year of an apprenticeship. He has secured a position with the Air Force and is set to achieve a high earning potential. He is injured in an accident while cycling and his wrist is permanently damaged. 

He is no longer able to pursue his chosen career, and any compensation amount would reflect this loss in the amount allowed for in the award of damages.

A personal injury lawyer will be able to assist you in going through the process of cycle accident injury compensation.

Frequently Answered Questions

What is car dooring and who is at fault?

If you are a cyclist reading this, we do not need to explain what dooring is to you. You may well have been knocked off your bike by a car door opening, or at the very least come awfully close at least once. The risks are there every day if you ride through a remotely urban environment.

For the uninitiated, car dooring is a terrifying experience where the driver or rear right-hand passenger of a parked car unwittingly opens their car door into your path. You are either stopped in your tracks or jettisoned over the door (or worse, into traffic).

There is a small but growing movement towards teaching the Dutch Reach as a means to mitigating the risk to cyclists, but for the time being the onus falls to the cyclists to be aware of a potential hazard.

Is car dooring a cyclist an offence?

Yes, it is. We recommend reporting any instance of dooring to the police to ensure that you are protected in the event of needing to make a claim for compensation.

Who is at fault when a car door is opened on a cyclist?

The person who opened the door is at fault (which the vehicle’s insurer will cover) - but the driver or passenger of a vehicle may well refuse to accept the responsibility. In this instance we can assist you in progressing your claim for compensation and moving forward.

A car turned into me on my bike, what do I do next?

When a car turns in onto you when cycling this is almost always the fault of the driver. If the driver was aware of their actions and stopped to assist you, make sure you collect their details and take down as much information about the accident as you can.

If you are injured you will need to seek medical treatment but still report the matter to police. You will be able to commence the process of seeking compensation for any injury or loss suffered as a result of your accident.

Can you help with the cost of repair or replacement of my bike?

As part of a cycling injury compensation claim we can also help explore the insurance options for the repair or replacement of your bicycle that was damaged in the accident.

We do suggest taking out cyclist insurance as part of your cycling costs. Some cycling organisations such as Bicycle Queensland provide injury, third party and income protection insurance as part of the cost of membership.

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