Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
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Joined: 10 Jul 2020, 9:04pm

Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by superficial »

Hi all,

I really need some legal advice about how to claim compensation against a driver while I was commuting. I'm not a paid-up CyclingUK member (if only...) so I don't think I'm eligible for legal support through them (?) but I figured the forum would be a good source of info!

The facts: I was involved in an accident while I was on my bike. A car drove into me from behind, destroying my bike. I was not significantly injured.
I am an experienced cyclist, and I have done the journey/manoeuvre in question hundreds of times (> 225 according to my Garmin).
After the driver got out to shout at me, he drove away without exchanging details (whilst I was on the phone to the police to record an assualt - see below).
He was apprehended a short way down the road by the police.
He didn’t report the accident to his insurer (he should have) – the first they knew of it was when I called them several days later.
My bike is going to cost ~£800 to repair (new frame, wheel, tyre, mudguards etc) or about £1200 to replace.

The disputed bit which I, unfortunately, cannot prove:
The driver was annoyed at me for filtering in front of him in v slow moving traffic ~40m before the junction. He beeped his horn at me, then drove his car at me, intentionally.

Although it was a busy junction, at the time I didn’t think to canvas any help, so there are no witnesses on record.
There is unfortunately no CCTV or dashcam evidence.
I do not have bike insurance.

Anyway, despite my evidence (the call to the police, the damage to my bike, the damage to THE FRONT OF his car, my version of events), his insurer have accepted his version of events entirely that I cut in front of him. This is nonsense and is a ridiculous conclusion considering the damage incurred. I don’t really know how they can do this - perhaps they are just saying that in order to get me to go away. They are basing the decision entirely on the statement of a charlatan and asking me to ‘prove’ that I didn’t cut in front of him. Obviously I cannot do this but I don’t feel like I have a case to answer. I explained (over the phone) that I believe the burden of proof lies with them / the driver, but they claimed “that’s not how this works”. I want to go back to his insurer and explain the absurdity of all of this. But having spoken to their representative on the phone today, I think any letter will just be ignored.

I've been informed by others that I need to stop arguing the toss with his insurer and instead pursue him personally - via a small claims court or the like.

The maddening thing is that despite him having to give a statement to the police under caution etc, I still don’t have this ****’s address. I need this in order to start the small claims court proceedings. The police are saying they can’t give it to me because of data protection. This seems wrong and I’ll challenge it with them.

What other options do I have? I know his name, DOB (the police would give me that much), insurer and car registration plate. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by tim-b »

You're entitled to name, address, vehicle details and, if injured, insurance details
Approach the local police accident/collision admin unit during office hours
You might have cover under house insurance and you could approach any local solicitor to take this on as well, often at no/low cost
cycle tramp
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by cycle tramp »

Can I ask if the police recorded the statement from the driver of the vehicle which purposefully collided with you, and if so are they prepared to share it. If the statement is different to that of the statement made to the insurance company then you may have some leverage
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by Postboxer »

So they say you filtered past a vehicle, pulled in front of it, then braked to get run over? Doesn't seem likely does it. I would get their detailed story, do they claim to have been overtaking you, or that you passed them on the inside then swerved in front of them, in which case, you would have been travelling faster than they were, how did they manage to hit you? It's ridiculous isn't it, they didn't exchange details and didn't report it. I wonder how that would stand up in court.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by Oldjohnw »

Asap check if your household insurance might cover your legal costs: maybe even at least some of your bike costs. People have been known to make matters worse for themselves by taking the wrong action legally.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by tim-b »

...and further to what I said ^^, if you don't get the details that's a further offence committed by the driver, as well as failing to stop, etc, but I'm pretty sure that your entitlement under road traffic law takes precedence over data protection in E&W and that the collision admin unit will help you
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by Pebble »

you can get their details from DVLA

You can ask for details of another vehicle’s registered keeper. You’ll need a ‘reasonable cause’, for example:
finding out who was responsible for an accident
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by fastpedaller »

I hope the Police prosecute him. If so his guard may slip in court, and strengthen your case against him/the insurance company.
I had similar happen to me 40 years ago. Guy drove off and denied all knowledge. Police prosecuted, and in court he was asked if he knew the road it happened on was a narrow road. Remember he'd denied all knowledge, but had stated he'd driven on that road in his journey. His (under pressure) response was "not at that point" to which the Police said "so on your journey along this 2 mile road you didn't see any cyclists, but you know where along the 2 mile road the incident happened?" he was nailed good and proper (but only got £100 total fine + 3 points). 18 months later the solicitor 9supplied by then BCF) still couldn't get the compo out of him - he also hadn't told his insurers, who (at the time) could absolve themselves - I believe that isn't the case now. Exasperated, I phoned his solicitor and said "I'll get recompense, legally or illegally" they asked me to elaborate, so I just said "use your imagination". I was at the end of my tether, and my thoughts were that a case for 'threatening' was unlikely to be pursued because the legal system had 'let me down'. Maybe I was naive/wrong, who knows, but I got payment within the week.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by atlas_shrugged »

@superficial Very important...

Contact your MP and insist that he/she campaign to change the law for vulnerable road users to 'default liability'.

These kind of laws already exist in civilised cycling countries such as France, Netherlands, Germany etc etc. The advantage this law change will give you is that the burden of proof is forced onto the driver. Basically their insurance will just pay up unless the driver can prove their version is correct and they were not at fault. The other advantage of this law change is that drivers are much more careful when around cyclists and pedestrians. I was very impressed with French drivers care on a weeks cycling in Normandy - for example.

This is too late to get a law change to help the O/P and I totally sympathise with the position of the O/P.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by slowster »

1. As others have already told you, you should pursue this via the small claims court. I think there is plenty of advice and guidance how to do this on the relevant Govt. website, and probably also on sites like Moneysavingexpert. I don't think it's very complicated or difficult.

2. The crucial thing is that civil claims are decided on a 'balance of probabilities' (as opposed to 'beyond reasonable doubt' for criminal charges). As Postboxer says, the account he has provided to his insurers does not sound very credible. If a court is presented with his account and yours, it sounds like yours is far more credible, and I would expect them to find judgement in your favour.

3. Never mind the fact that you cannot prove the deliberate intent and road rage. Whilst ideally he should be prosecuted for such dangerous behaviour and intentional assualt, it is not fundamentally relevant to a civil claim. You just need to prove what he did, not his motivation or intent.

4. At the moment, all his insurers can/will do is wait. There is no responsibility on them to act like an impartial judge and tell their insured that he is lying, that clearly you are telling the truth, and pay you compensation. They are his insurers, not yours.

However, things change once you submit the small claims court papers. Once the writ is received by him and he passes it on to his insurers, they are required to respond and either accept liability or state clearly, with reference to evidence, why they do not accept liability on behalf of their insured. Consequently it's at that point if his case is very weak and/or his account appears to be a fabrication, that his insurers are able to stop just accepting his account at face value. If it's clear to them that you are likely to win they will not want to dispute it further, because doing so increases their costs and just wastes money.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by Jdsk »

As above.

+ Keep a contemporaneous diary of all communications and events. Write it down, dates and times, don't rely on your memory. This can make an enormous difference in disputes.

+ Get someone else to check all of your communications before you send them. Including the claim itself. You want it clear and cold-blooded. No emotion, no generalisation, no allegation beyond the claim. No confusion with criminal action. Put yourself in the place of the adjudicator.

+ You can get advice from Citizens Advice, Which? Legal services, a solicitor, and, as above through your insurers and associations such as Unions.


PS: There isn't actually a "small claims court" in England, it's the small claims process of the County Court.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by thirdcrank »

It's a bit dated now, but here's a similar thread from 2010.


IMO, one very important bit is the explanation from forum member stoobs on successfully using the small claims procedure: "Even a monkey could do it." I've a feeling that stoobs entered cycling folklore with this, which may be the source of some of the advice you have already received.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any current police policy on releasing drivers' details after a collision. You can pay for a copy of any police report but that's in the region of £100 so a bit eye-watering for damage only. It's certainly the case that when the police more or less stopped investigating crashes there was reassurance that people would not be penalised for not calling the police at the time and that help would be given with identifying the other party when full details were not exchanged or were stiff.

As others have said, the DVLA supplies details subject to conditions, but AFAIK, the DVLA is only providing a very limited service for anything which isn't fully computerised ie needs human involvement. That will, in any case, provide only the details of the registered keeper, who may or may not be the driver.

Again, as others have said, there's the MIB. Memory a bit vague but on a previous occasion, IIRC, their fomat assumed you would be driving a motor vehicle so your reg details are needed

https://www.mib.org.uk/check-insurance- ... -accident/
Mike Sales
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by Mike Sales »

I sucessfully used the County Court for a small claim when a tradesman attempted to bilk me. I had to use the bailiffs to get paid.
I found it painless and efficient. I carefully followed the advice in the papers sent by the court (pre net).
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by thirdcrank »

Jdsk wrote: ... PS: There isn't actually a "small claims court" in England, it's the small claims process of the County Court.

Yes. They used to be separate but were merged for administrative reasons eg to allow flexibility over which procedure would be followed. AFAIK, with a claim which fits the small claim criteria, nothing much has changed except the name.
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Re: Hit from behind while commuting - advice please!

Post by mjr »

If you only want legal support for a claim, https://legal.wiggle.co.uk/ is available. The difference to BC/CUK deals, as I understand it, is that the terms aren't quite as good because no organisation is paying for the failed cases.

For legal support defending a claim against me, I'd take out legal expenses insurance, which is another common option on home insurance policies, or can be bought seperately. I don't have any suggestions, but I'd check the terms carefully, as you may be giving up some freedom to choose who represents you.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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