And this should come as no surprise. Being compensated will be more important to many, if not most, of those injured in crashes, compared to seeing the driver be given a fine, a few penalty points or sent on a remedial driver training course.
And civil justice has the potential to help those who are not (yet) victims. RoadPeace has been calling for change to our liability system for over 15 years so that it would be fairer to those walking and cycling. Introduction of a presumed liability system would spark a national debate on the duty of care of drivers, a debate that is overdue. With such limited traffic law enforcement, it is important for drivers to realise that they will be held responsible, at least in civil courts, for not doing more to avoid collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. We believe this is essential before any cycling revolution can occur.
But the challenges victims face in accessing civil justice are many, including:
- Our fault based compensation system means lack of investigation can result in lack of compensation to innocent victims.
- The government’s priority is reducing motor insurance premiums, not ensuring innocent victims are compensated properly.
- To reduce whiplash claims, the government is proposing reforms that will make it much harder for innocent victims to claim compensation. This is very unfair to pedestrians and cyclists as they do not make whiplash claims.
- Bereavement damages are insultingly low in England and Wales—less than £13k and age restricted with no compensation for grown children over the age of 18 years of age.
- Interim claims are often delayed due to a lack of disclosure by police, which then delays rehabilitation.
- Victims of uninsured and untraced drivers face additional obstacles in getting compensation.
- Injured pedestrians and cyclists do not automatically qualify for civil compensation by default, as they do in most other European countries.