What’s the deal for people injured in bike accidents?

It seems that more and more often we hear in the news of people seriously injured while riding bikes. Unfortunately, when a cyclist and motor vehicle collide it is always the cyclist that ends up worse off, often with very serious injuries. Without the protection offered by modern cars, a cyclist takes the full force of the collision directly to their body.

Fortunately, those people who are injured in bicycle accidents are often entitled to the same type of compensation as people injured in other road accidents.

Most people are aware that if they are in a ‘car v car’ or a ‘car v motorcycle’ accident they are potentially covered by insurance if they were not wholly ‘at fault’ in causing the accident. But the same thing is true for many ‘bicycle v vehicle (eg car, van, semitrailer, truck, bus or motorcycle) accidents.

That’s because, as long as the person driving the vehicle was wholly or partially at fault in causing the accident, the injured cyclist can utilise the personal injury insurance provided by the Insurance Commission of Western Australia. That’s because the person driving the vehicle has specific insurance to cover any injuries that they cause to other road users, and this includes bike riders and pedestrians. Everyone registering a vehicle to drive on the road pays this compulsory insurance as part of their registration fees.

A cyclist who has a claim for injuries received from an accident caused by a vehicle can claim for:

  • pain and suffering
  • time off work or reduced earning capacity (both in the past and future)
  • medical treatment (before finalisation of the claim medical treatment is often directly paid by the insurer)
  • future medical treatment (this might be significant if the injuries have not fully resolved at the time of finalisation of the claim – or it might include things like the future development of arthritis when serious orthopaedic injuries have been suffered)
  • assistance (both paid such as gardeners or cleaners and unpaid such as assistance with personal care when recovering from surgery)
  • out of pocket expenses (for example, transport to medical treatment or over the counter pain killers)

These amounts can add up quickly when the bike rider has been seriously injured.

As the law stands at the moment a cyclist injured in a ‘bike’ v ‘bike’ or ‘bike’v ‘pedestrian’ accident is not covered by any compulsory insurance scheme unless the cyclist causing the accident has purchased their own separate insurance policy from a private insurer. Unfortunately, this is rare. It may be that in the future this will change, but at the moment cyclists involved in accidents in WA with registered road users are the only ones covered by the insurance provided by the Insurance Commission of Western Australia.

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