Cycling Accidents and Spinal Cord Injury
Cycling Accidents: The Facts and Figures:
Cycling is one of the most economic, sustainable and healthy forms of transport available. It is, therefore, no surprise that is also is rising in popularity. However, cycling accidents are the second most likely type of road traffic accident, following motorcycle accidents, with cyclists being 23 times more likely than motorists to be involved in a collision.
This is a terrifying figure as cyclists and motorcyclists, bar pedestrians, are the most vulnerable of all road users. This is because physically they are almost completely exposed to any dangers.
The table below records the cyclists casualties from 2014:
Child Adult All*
Killed 6 107 113
Seriously Injured 273 3,090 3,401
Slightly Injured 1,726 15,684 17,773
Total 2005 18,881 21,287
*All includes casualties where age was not recorded
Statistics taken from ROSPA see: https://www.rospa.com/Road-Safety/Advice/Cyclists-and-motorcyclists/Accident-rates.
From this table, it is clear that the numbers of cycling accidents are horrifically high, and when we consider how easily these tragic road accidents can be prevented, the numbers become pretty grim.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Centre’s 2015 datasheet records that of the 1,200 new spinal cord injury (SCI) cases that are seen every year the UK, 2.8% of these are from bicycle collisions. This translates to 12 people - a quarter being children - a year who sustain a life-changing SCI which, sadly, did not need to be the case.
Types of Cycling Accidents
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, or ROSPA as they are commonly referred to, have examined the most common time and types of cycling accidents.
From their findings they have found the following to be the most common cause of cycling accidents:
- Rider error: This includes losing control of the bicycle, failing to look properly at junctions and when entering the road from a pavement.
- Other road users failing to look properly, especially at junctions. This accounts for 57% of cycling accidents!
- Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are a particular danger. This is due to cyclist vulnerability and their sheer lack of protection - 20% of cyclist fatalities in London have involved HGVs passing too close at junctions or either rider or driver failing to look properly.
When Do Cycling Accidents Happen?*
- Around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas.
- Around half of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads.
- 75% happen at, or near, a road junction.
- 80% occur in daylight: 8 - 9 a.m. and 3 - 6 p.m. are the most dangerous times to cycle.
- 80% of cyclist casualties are male.
- Almost one-quarter of the cyclists killed or injured are children.
- Around three-quarters of cyclists killed have major head injuries.
- More bicycle accidents happen through the Spring and Summer months than during the Autumn and Winter months. But, the casualty rate in terms of miles travelled is higher over the Autumn and Winter period.
*Statistics taken from ROSPA see: https://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/pedal-cyclists/facts-figures/.
Spinal Cord Injury: Prevention is the Only Cure
As shown above, motorcycle and cycling accidents are a common cause of spinal cord injury on the roads. As it stands, there is no definitive and proven treatment available that is able to cure a spinal cord injury and so prevention of these types of injuries really is the only cure.
Today, after sustaining a SCI, the treatment process involves acute recovery and then an individually tailored rehabilitation plan that will work to optimise whatever remaining functionalities you may have and to reintegrate you into normal life and work.
There are many road safety charities out there who are dedicated to providing safer roads for all, including ROSPA, Think! and Brake which all offer great advice how to stay safe as a cyclist and how to keep cyclists safe as other road users. You can read their latest cycling advice here.
What To Do When A Cycling Accident Leads to a Spinal Cord Injury
Following a bicycle accident where it is suspected that the cyclist has indeed sustained a spinal cord injury, there is a premeditated route which should be followed.
At The Scene
It is very important that the individual with the suspected SCI should remain as still as possible if safe to do so. In many situations moving the individual can do more harm than good and can, as an example, cause an incomplete spinal cord injury to translate into a complete one, the impact of which is considerably more far-reaching than the former.
It is also crucial that the scene of an accident should be fully documented. If possible take photos of everything involved and gather as many witness statements and contact details as possible. If you are the injured party try and get someone more able to carry out these tasks for you.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
It is common sense that after any traumatic accident, regardless of however serious or slight you may think your injury is, that medical attention is sought immediately.
Seeking medical advice immediately will also ensure that if you do, at a later date, wish to launch a compensation claim for your injury, you will have a detailed medical report to work as evidence in such a case. This report will be used in the calculations to configure how much it is that you would be owed.
A Compensation Claim
If you or a loved one does unfortunately sustain or has recently sustained a spinal cord injury, it is a given that it will sadly affect you and your family for the rest of your lives.
If your spinal injury was caused by an accident that was not wholly your fault, then you should consider seeking out compensation.
We understand completely that all the money in the world will not turn the clock back, but a fair financial settlement really can help you and your family maintain a level of independence and enjoy a good standard of living. It is crucial that the decision to claim or not is taken very seriously.
It is also worth noting at this stage that even if you feel the accident was partly your fault you could still be owed something. Additionally, if you were a passenger in a car accident that was caused by a friend, family member or even partner, it is important to know an ensuing compensation claim would be paid out against the driver's insurance company and not themselves.
Aspire Law: Your Spinal Injury Lawyer
Aspire Law is the UK’s only spinal injury law firm to deal exclusively with spinal cord injury compensation claims. This means we fully understand how personal and intricate these cases can be and just how life changing a successful result can be.
We have very in-depth and recent expertise in helping people who have been injured as a passenger, a driver, a pedestrian, and cyclist or motorcyclist in a road traffic accident.