More people are cycling to work than ever before and Ride to Work Day is coming up on Wednesday 16 October.
Having more cyclists on the road increases the demand for better bike infrastructure to keep riders safe, and will lead to a safer commute for everyone.
We all have a shared responsibility to keep each other safe on our roads, but cyclists are particularly vulnerable road-users. Workplaces and government want to make it as easy as possible for people to ride to and from work, but many are hesitant to try riding to work because of safety concerns.
As a Motor Vehicle Accident lawyer, I see the devastating impacts that even a moment’s inattention can cause, and I have assisted many cyclists who’ve suffered serious injuries as the result of a transport accident.
Many cyclists who are injured in transport accidents aren’t aware that in some cases, they may be able to access entitlements under the TAC scheme. Common scenarios include cyclists being car-doored, or struck by drivers who have failed to see them and give way. In these scenarios cyclists may have entitlements under the TAC scheme. This may be the case even in circumstances where a car isn’t directly involved. For example, cyclists who are injured while trying to avoid a collision.
Under the TAC scheme, injured people can access a broad range of entitlements including payment of their medical and similar expenses, income payments and in some circumstances, lump-sum compensation. A person’s entitlements will depend on their particular circumstances, so I would encourage injured cyclists to seek legal advice about their rights so that they know what they may be entitled to.
In recent years there’s been a considerable effort to improve safety for cyclists, with increases in bicycle lanes, infrastructure and safety awareness, but more needs to be done.
Recent changes to TAC legislation allow for cyclists to be covered to receive TAC benefits if they collide with a stationary or parked car. This change applies to cyclists injured in accidents on or after 9 July 2014. Available benefits include medical and like expenses, income payments and potentially lump-sum compensation, even if they were at fault for the accident.
Slater and Gordon worked with TAC and the State Government and advocated for the legislative changes introduced last year after Drysdale man Rory Wilson rode his bicycle through torrential rain into a stationary truck in Portarlington, resulting in serious life-changing injuries, including paraplegia.
In some cases, cyclists will not be able to access benefits through TAC, but may have other legal entitlements if their injury is due to the fault of another party. For example, if a cyclist comes off their bike after hitting a pot hole in the road or is injured due to an issue with road or bike path maintenance, they may still have entitlements to bring a legal claim and should be encouraged to seek advice from a lawyer.
Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and all road users need to be aware and do what they can to keep each other safe.
If we want to encourage more people to cycle, cyclists need to know their rights and what they are entitled to, if they are injured while on the road.
Accessing good legal advice can help you to navigate the system and get your claim processed. If cyclists are unsure as to whether they have entitlements under the TAC scheme, I would encourage them to seek advice as soon as possible, as strict time limits apply to accessing their rights.