Legal advice on cycling accidents

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A cycling accident can be an overwhelming, not to mention traumatic, experience. Riders and drivers share the road on a daily basis and cycling safety has become a major concern as the number of accidents involving cyclists is on the rise, according to Arrive Alive.

Gert Nel Incorporated Attorneys give advice on what to do in the event of a collision between a rider and motor vehicle.

What to do after an accident – Immediately after the accident you should obtain as much information as possible. This would include registration numbers for the parties involved, ID numbers and telephone numbers. It is important to note that should there be witnesses, it is a good idea to get their details as well.

Take photographs of the scene as well as the vehicles involved and record the circumstances in which the accident happened. Sharing the road with other users, cyclists are often placed in risky situations as many ignore the rules of the road. Accidents can happen to even the most experienced cyclists.

It is important to note exactly where the point of impact happened and information about where the incident occurred (e.g. at a traffic light controlled intersection or at a four way stop). Try to record any conversation between the people involved as well as possible witnesses.

All this may seem like a lot, as realistically circumstances at an accident scene are chaotic, but try and keep everything in mind when confronted with such a situation.

What to expect in the case of the cyclist being at fault – Depending on how the accident occurred, the cyclist might be criminally liable, but this would be in extreme circumstances.

There is, however, a civil liability that may follow. The driver of the vehicle would be able to claim for damages which include material (damage to vehicle etc.) and personal injuries from the cyclist, but would not be able to claim for personal injuries from the Road Accident Fund. This is because a cyclist does not comply with the description given in the Act of a third party.

In a situation where the cyclist was completely at fault, they would not have a counter-claim against the motorist.

What to expect in the case of the cyclist NOT being at fault – If the accident was through no fault of the cyclist, the affected party should report the incident to the nearest police station as well as consult with a doctor as soon as possible.

Orthopaedic injuries often only become obvious at a later stage and by then it might be difficult to prove a connection should the cyclist later decide to claim for such injuries.

Make sure to keep records of any medical bills and accounts that might flow from receiving treatment.

In the case of personal injury one should consult with a specialist personal injury attorney and lodge a claim against the Road Accident Fund (RAF) as soon as possible.

A RAF claim caters for all the injured person’s personal requirements that might stem from the accident. Under certain circumstances, this may include medical expenses, loss of income, loss off support and general damages.

The process of claiming is one that can take up to 36 months and the guidance of an attorney is recommended.

It is important to note that in terms of the RAF Act the driver of a vehicle cannot be held liable in their personal capacity for any injuries suffered by the cyclist, the claim must be lodged against the RAF.

The cyclist will be able to recover the damage to their bicycle from the driver of the vehicle and would be able to claim damages for personal injuries from the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996.

All the information was supplied by Gert Nel Incorporated    

                            Attorneys, Pretoria. Should you, or a rider you know, require legal advice on personal injury, visit www.gertnelincattorneys.co.za