Been hit by a bus... What next?
June 13, 2011 1:20 AM   Subscribe

This morning I was hit by a bus while cycling to work. I'm not badly hurt but currently in hospital waiting to have my shoulder checked and cuts cleaned out. I'm in London, England. The bus driver was 100% to blame. The police have taken a statement from me and I have two phone numbers from witnesses. What should I be doing now to make sure I receive adequate compensation and the driver is dealt with appropriately?
posted by ascullion to Travel & Transportation around London, England (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What should I be doing now to make sure I receive adequate compensation and the driver is dealt with appropriately?

Speaking to a lawyer.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:43 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry to hear this happened, it's quite a shock so do be kind to yourself and avoid other stesses for a while. Also, when you've calmed down try to be concious of how damaging anger can be, warranted or not. Sometimes the anger can stop you healing heathily from this in every sense, e.g. when angry we tense our muscles and right now that shoulder is going to need pain relief & to not be too tense.
As regards compensation,
There are so many personal injuries companies in London it's not even funny. There will be paper adverts in the A&E area or nearby. The NHS tries to keep the actual hospital free of them but it's a bit of a crap shoot... look at the first bus shelter advert outside A&E.
posted by Wilder at 2:04 AM on June 13, 2011

Best answer: At minimum you'll probably want to complain to Transport for London about the driver. Have a look at this comprehensive thread on LFGSS for what to do next (it has info on chasing up the Police and starting civil proceedings).
Also have a look at this guide from QC Martin Porter on how to choose a lawyer.
Sorry that this happened, hope your injuries aren't too serious.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 2:05 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just to add, Martin Porter, is a cycling lawyer. Drop him an email, he's a pretty friendly chap.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 2:07 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The CTC keeps a list of lawyers with experience in cycling -related issues. (Are you a member? If not, join!) Give them a buzz, ask nicely and they'll be able to put you in touch with someone. See also SyntacticSugar's link on choosing a lawyer...
posted by pharm at 2:44 AM on June 13, 2011

Best answer: You need to separate out any criminal prosecution pursued by the state, and any civil damages that you yourself seek. In the UK offences are prosecuted by the state rather than the individual. The police will investigate the case and pass the case to the Crown Prosecution Service if there is sufficient evidence. You can help them with this by giving as much detail in your witness statement as you can (like the phone numbers of witnesses) and by staying in touch with the investigating officer. They should give you their contact details and keep you updated on how they are progressing; ask for their details and ring them if they don't. Quote the "Victims' Code of Practice" to them, which gives them a legal duty to do this.

If the case goes to court and a conviction results, it is possible the court may impose a compensation order. This will be based on an assessment of the harm caused to you, which is provided to the court by the police and prosecution. The police should fill in a form as part of their case file. Remind them of this and give them as much information as you can about financial loss and physical/mental harm the incident has caused. (Bear in mind the court will also take into account the offender's means when setting the amount, so it may be a lower amount than the actual damage caused). You don't need a lawyer for any of this: if you engage one, they will advise you and charge you, but they won't represent you in court or anything (that's the CPS's job, and even then their role is to represent the state not you directly).

By contrast a lawyer will be of help on civil damages, as others have said, and is the best place to start. Note if you are successful in seeking damages any amount already paid via a compensation order will be deducted from the total.
posted by greycap at 3:19 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You should probably take some pictures of your injuries and maybe go see your local GP for a follow up if they cause you any problems. Also you should get your bike checked over by a competent mechanic to detail any problems caused by the accident. You'll need these in writing for a civil case and it'll help if the Police decide to prosecute and you're called as a witness. In any event document everything as soon as you can in as much detail as you can, especially if you're likely to be called to give evidence in court, since the lead time can be so long.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 3:32 AM on June 13, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, really helpful replies.
posted by ascullion at 4:04 AM on June 13, 2011

Best answer: Police have got your statement, and you've got witnesses, that's all good.

I'd recommend getting someone to take photos of the location (if you can't get down there to take them yourself). Make sure you're noting down expenses that you're incurring at the moment - any time off work, and obviously damage to the bike. You've said you're at A&E now, but make an appointment to follow up with your GP in a week or so, and keep an eye out for any aches and pains.

Remember that compensation is just that - compensation for any damages to your belongings, losses to yourself, or the cost of treatment. If you're not badly hurt, and nothing surfaces later, don't expect to get thousands and thousands of pounds just because you were involved in an accident. Those no-win/no-fee adverts exaggerate a lot. If you aren't badly injured, it may be worth just taking the claim for repairing/replacing the bike/loss of earnings to TfL's insurer yourself and trying to get it sorted quickly. I'd suggest checking to see if any home contents/work related stuff will give you any cover for legal expenses as well.

What actually happened in the accident? It'll be down to the police and the CPS if there is a prosecution for dangerous driving or similar, and it shouldn't really affect your claim against the insurers if they do or don't prosecute.
posted by MattWPBS at 6:32 AM on June 13, 2011

Best answer: Civil litigator here: don't do anything yourself.

Rather, once you're discharged go and buy a copy of Cycling Weekly from the newsagent and have a look in the ads section. You'll find a handful of firms which do this kind of thing and little else. Retain a solicitor who spends most of their time doing cycling accidents. Do not go to a personal injury generalist without a recommendation that you trust as their quality varies considerably.

greycap's comment bears rereading as it's important to get your head around the civil/ criminal proceedings distinction. If the CPS decides to prosecute the bus company, which is by no means a given, and if the prosecution is successful, your civil case will be a formality and the only dispute might be over quantum: i.e. how much you get. Traditionally for this reason civil cases tend to follow criminal cases. This situation is unlikely to be resolved quickly so prepare for a bit of a wait for a payout. Don't let yourself be pushed into accepting a small sum for the sake of a quick disposal. Insist on your rights - your solicitor should help you to do this.

On quantum, let a lawyer with a copy of Kemp & Kemp on Quantum in front of them advise you about how much to expect. I am by no means a PI lawyer but assuming you have bruises, lacerations and your bike's been damaged - even cosmetically - I wouldn't not be surprised if you were able to agree a settlement sum in four figures. Your bike needs to be thoroughly checked out and almost certainly serviced to ensure that any damage (which you may very well not be able to see, is identified and if possible fixed. You're almost certainly not qualified to look for hairline cracks in the welds of the frame and you shouldn't be expected to pay for this to be done.

Get well soon and don't let this put you off. I had a grim accident on the bike last summer but if nothing else I'm a much more cautious rider now. Half the battle is ensuring that to the extent that it's possible, you don't put yourself in a situation where you can be hurt by an idiot.
posted by dmt at 7:33 AM on June 13, 2011

Response by poster: thanks all - really great advice

dmt - completely agree with last line, exactly my approach. i can't tell you how shocked i am to have been driven into in the way i was this morning.
posted by ascullion at 8:43 AM on June 13, 2011

Taking time to write down your account of what happened (both during the incident and the aftermath) can help quite a bit. Also write down things like what happened as a result, what you felt like, what the consequences were, what appointments and treatments you had to undergo, what time you spent or work or other activities you missed, etc.

It all seems very clear & easy to remember now but by the time a trial comes around in 1.5 years (or whatever) the written down record from very early on can really jog your memory.

You might want to discuss this with your legal representative, though, as anything you write down could become evidence in a legal proceeding.
posted by flug at 1:53 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

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