It’s Your Own Damned Fault!
This today via Adrian Fitch’s Random Ramblings - a story about bicycle helmets, accidents and blame as reported in BikeRadar. Putting it simply:
Involved in an accident on a bike? Hit by another vehicle, and suffer a head injury as a result?
Weren’t you wearing a helmet?
Then you’re partially to blame. Maybe.
Or at least that’s one way you could read the judgment in Smith v Finch 2009. Basically Smith was knocked off his bike by Finch (note the ‘n’ - it’s not Adrian Fitch!) who was speeding and passed too close to Smith when he tried to overtake. Smith got a bang on the back of the head, and a rapid rotation of the skull as he came off the bike, causing some brain injuries, resulting in memory loss of the incident. So Smith sued Finch for damages.
Finch’s hot-shot legal team countered, saying that as Smith wasn’t wearing a helmet, he had contributed to his own injuries.
The judge agreed, except that in this case:
- The point of impact was on a part of the head not normally covered by bike helmets
- The cyclist’s speed was greater than 12mph (above a bike helmet’s design parameters?)
- The rotational injury was a contributory factor (one that needn’t have involved any impact to the head?)
So it’s maybe not as bad as it might seem, if you don’t like wearing a helmet. If it were, then you’d have to ask what next - pedestrians that get run over deemed partially liable if they’re not wearing a helmet? Or how about drivers of small cars involved in crashes with larger cars? Surely by opting to buy the smaller vehicle, they’ve contributed to the severity of any injuries they receive?
I came across this classic on Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery that pretty much makes the point - click through to the Yehuda Moon site to enlarge: