British Cycling, along with a coalition of other road user groups, is calling for cyclists to be excluded from government plans to restrict the recovery of legal costs when seeking compensation for incidents on the road.
The Ministry of Justice has said it will increase the small claims limit in “road traffic accident-related” personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. This move, which is due to come into force in 2018, would mean that thousands of injured cyclists will be denied the right to recover their legal costs in relation to seeking compensation for their injuries, as the majority of claims typically fall under the proposed £5,000 limit. British Cycling has today responded to the Justice Select Committee’s consultation on the issue.
Approximately 70% of cyclists who are injured through no fault of their own will be unable to recover their legal costs. Injured cyclists will be put in a David and Goliath situation where they will face dealing with insurance companies without legal representation.
British Cycling’s campaigns manager, Martin Key, said:
“The current proposals are aimed at tackling fraudulent whiplash claims, and the government argues the reforms could save motorists £40 per year on their insurance premiums. However, whilst cyclists do not tend to suffer whiplash injuries, the reforms impact on all road users and not just drivers. It will become almost impossible for the majority of injured cyclists to get legal representation without sacrificing a significant proportion of any compensation that they receive.
“The government needs to be doing everything that it can to encourage more people to get on bikes. All this will do is put people off. We do not accept that the small claims limit needs to be changed at all. If the limits are changed, the increase should be in line with inflation only and limited to road traffic claims brought by occupants of motor vehicles.”
British Cycling’s response to the Select Committee’s inquiry has been jointly signed by Bennetts Insurance, British Cycling, Carole Nash, Cycling UK, Fletchers Solicitors, Leigh Day Solicitors
Minster Law Solicitors, NewLaw Solicitors, RoadPeace, Slater and Gordon Solicitors and The British Horse Society.
The government has excluded other types of claim from their proposals, with the small claims limit for non-road traffic claims only facing an increase to £2,000. British Cycling is firmly of the view that claims involving vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, should not be included with other road traffic claims. If the small claims limit should change at all, the increase should be to £2,000 only in line with proposals for other types of claim.