Can I claim if I was riding without a bike helmet?

Head injuries are the most common claim when cyclists don't wear a helmet. If you are injured when riding without a helmet, can you still claim compensation?

Cyclist without helmet

The law does not make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets, although the Highway Code rule 59 recommends that cyclists "wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened".

Despite best practice safety advice, many of us still take the risk and cycle without helmets. In fact the success of city cycling schemes such as TFL's 'Boris Bikes' - means an increasing number of us jump on and off bikes without having a helmet to hand.

How much protection does a cycling helmet provide?

There have been a number of academic studies that question the safety of cycling helmets.

Research conducted by Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath revealed that, bizarrely, drivers gave helmet-wearing cyclists less room when overtaking; forcing them to deal with potholes and drain covers, potentially increasing the likelihood of accident and injury.

His findings also suggested that helmets although useful in low speed falls or tumbles over the handlebars, may not offer much protection in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle.

Another study from the Transport Research Laboratory 'the potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury' supports this view.

Bicycle helmets are made from polystyrene and are designed to protect wearers from falls to the ground at under 12mph. Some research even suggests there is a risk of rotational brain injury and neck injuries through helmet air vents catching on the road surface.

It is generally agreed however, that wearing a helmet is far safer than not wearing a helmet. Critically this is the view taken by most Courts.

Can you still get compensation if you were not wearing a helmet?

Many cyclists are put off claiming injury compensation for accidents that weren't their fault, presuming the fact they were bare-headed will go against them.

Indeed the defendant will most probably argue that the extent of the claimants injuries would have been less severe if he or she had been wearing a helmet. Many Courts will agree with this reasoning and will reduce compensation awards by citing the lack of a helmet as contributory negligence.

Although cycling without a helmet does not disqualify a cyclist from claiming compensation if injured, it could substantially reduce the amount of compensation the claimant receives.

However, a reduction in claimant compensation for contributory negligence can only be applied if the injured cyclist was at fault to some degree which contributed to their injury, to the extent that if they hadn't been at fault, the injury could have been avoided or would have been less severe

How can Quittance help?

Quittance's solicitors have years of experience assisting cyclists achieve maximum compensation awards for their injuries. If you've been involved in a cycle accident that wasn't your fault, call us on 0800 612 7456 or complete an online form and we will call you back.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert

Claim Injury Compensation 100% No Win, No Fee

Claim now

The Good Solicitor Guide
Rated 4.6 out of 5 (38 reviews)

Ask an expert

If you have any questions, or would like to make a comment, let us know: