Cycling Accidents Abroad: What to do Next
Cycling is Here to Stay
Over the past decade or so, cycling has grown immensely in popularity. This is only set to increase following the phenomenal British medal success at Rio 2016. Nevertheless, unfortunately, this rising number of bike riders is synonymous with an increase in cyclist accidents.
Harry Wallop has reported in The Telegraph that the hope that the sheer weight of cyclists on the roads would force both drivers and local authorities to create safer cycling environments has, sadly, not yet happened.
Cycling related injuries, ranging from relatively minor injuries to serious complications - such as spinal cord injury - and fatalities, are not confined to our roads in Britain: With this affordable and environmentally friendly hobby’s increased following, the number of us going on cycling holidays has also climbed.
At the same time that this healthy new holiday fever takes off and takes hold of us as a nation, it is crucial that safety remains a priority. Planning is key to the success of any cycling holiday - whether a fast-paced race or a more leisurely meander through the foreign countryside.
This article aims to serve as a guide to warn of any dangers you may encounter and to offer tips and advice and to prevent and point you in the right direction, should the worst happen.
Cycling Abroad’s Best Practices
Before heading abroad to cycle, there are a few things that it is vital to carry out and ensure that you have taken care of before setting off:
Insurance is Assurance
The first and arguably most important aspect to consider is appropriate travel insurance. Many people sometimes view travel insurance as optional. However, it should not be. Especially when endeavouring on such an action-packed holiday as a cycling one. Put it this way, no one ever regrets the extra spend if the worst happens.
British Cycling offers a fantastic membership for those more dedicated cyclists among us. Including fully comprehensive insurance, bike cover, priority booking to major cycling events and more. There are, of course, other insurance deals out there that may be more suitable if you are a less keen cyclist.
At Aspire Law, we advise researching insurance quotes and reading the terms and conditions thoroughly so that you know exactly what it is you are covered for.
As well as insurance, if you are travelling within Europe, don’t forget to bring - or obtain - your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This can prove invaluable should anything happen. An EHIC card entitles you to free or reduced price health care in Europe. It should be carried with you at all times when abroad, particularly if you are travelling alone.
Check Your Equipment; Once, Twice And Thrice
Ensuring that all necessary equipment is present and in working order before even setting off is obvious. Nevertheless, it is still worth a mention.
When taking your own cycling equipment abroad, it is vital to make sure that you have the essentials. These include spare inner tubes, water bottles, puncture repair kit, a bicycle pump and reflective accessories for night cycling.
Not only will having the correct kit stop you being delayed and stuck in sticky situations, it can also prevent further accidents. Hanging around by the side of the road is very dangerous, especially if you are as inconspicuous as cyclists sometimes are.
Know The Rules Are Not There to be Broken
Just as is the case in the UK, foreign countries have their own rules of the road specific for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike. These, we must highlight, are not to be ignored. They are there to protect you and other road users.
Firstly, when on any road in the world, it is crucial to be sure that you are on the correct side. Again, this may seem obvious, but when cycling in quieter areas and where there is minimal traffic to follow, this can be confusing.
Secondly, as a cyclist is it more important than ever to be aware of who and what is around you. It is true that many accidents are caused environmentally (i.e. problems with the road or weather) or by the injured themselves. Yet, many are caused by other - less predictable - road users. However cautious or able you may be on a bicycle, you can never be sure of the actions of other road users. To account for this, cyclists being the most vulnerable road users must pay extra attention to moving vehicles.
Wherever it is you may be cycling, make sure that you are familiar with the rules of the local road and what the highway code says for that specific region. This is important not only for explaining how to conduct yourself on the roads, but it will also outline what the best practices are if an accident or injury should happen. For instance, in many European countries when you are involved in a road traffic accident the police must be called and a European Accident Statement (or known as constant amiable) must be agreed and completed.
What to do if You are Involved in a Cycling Accident Abroad
If you or someone you are with is involved in an accident where a serious injury - such as a spinal cord injury - is sustained, here is a short summary of what you should do and in what order.
The process immediately following a cycling accident follow the same pattern whether home or away:
Firstly, the most important thing to do is to ensure that the injured party is safe and to seek immediate medical attention. It is crucial not to move the injured at this stage. If there is spinal damage, by moving someone you can increase this and cause permanent and irreversible damage.
Secondly, you must record the scene of the accident. This is as simple as taking photos of damaged vehicles, property and if there are any skid marks or damage to the road that may help explain what happened. It is also useful to record the contact details of witnesses and record their statement of events.
This evidence can be used by insurance companies and the police to prove who was to blame and therefore liable for the accident. Here, if necessary, you should also call the police and complete a European Accident Statement.
Thirdly, it is important to consider a compensation claim if the accident was not your fault. You should also think about this if you were partly to blame. Although at the time claiming compensation may be the last thing on your mind, if you or someone you are with is seriously injured, a compensation claim can prove to be an essential lifeline.
Bearing this in mind, the injured party should record - or have someone else records - any problems that you face in day to day life going forward. This includes expenses arising from your accident as well as keeping all receipts. This will mean you don’t have to rely on memory if your case comes to trial. This will also be used to calculate the amount of compensation you are owed.
It is important to note here that you only have three years from the day of the accident to make a claim for any cycling accident abroad. Once these three years are up you will, unfortunately, have missed your opportunity. Although this may sound like a lot of time, with the changes and consequences that go hand in hand with a spinal cord injury, this time, can shoot past. This is why acting from the point of the accident, and acting fast, can save you a lot of headaches further down the line.
If you ensure that the above three steps are followed, in the event of a cycling accident abroad, all evidence will already be collated at a time when it is still viable if you do employ the services of a solicitor for compensation, following a spinal cord injury.
Aspire Law Spinal Injury Solicitors
Aspire Law is a special law firm dealing only with spinal cord injury compensation claims. This is because we fully understand how personal and intricate these cases can be and just how life-changing a successful result can be.