Can I Still Bring a Personal Injury Claim for My Ontario Biking Accident if I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?

Bh Ra Helmet Pic Scaled

If you’ve been injured in a cycling accident in Ontario, you might wonder if you can still claim compensation, especially if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The good news is that, in many cases, you can still pursue a claim for compensation even if you were not wearing a helmet. However, there are several factors to consider.

Understanding the Legal Framework in Ontario

In Ontario, if a person is injured by a motor vehicle while riding a bike and the other driver’s negligence caused the accident, the injured cyclist may have a claim for compensation. Under the Highway Traffic Act, there is a reverse onus on the driver of the vehicle to prove they were not negligent. This means that the driver must demonstrate that the accident was not due to their failure to act with reasonable care.

The Role of Contributory Negligence

While the driver may be primarily at fault, the concept of contributory negligence can play a crucial role in determining the final compensation amount. Contributory negligence occurs when the injured party (the cyclist, in this case) is found to have contributed to their own injuries through their actions or inactions.

For instance, not wearing a helmet while cycling could be considered contributory negligence. The rationale is that while the helmet might not prevent the accident, it could lessen the severity of the injuries sustained.

Proving Contributory Negligence

For contributory negligence to affect a compensation claim, the defendant (usually the driver or their insurance company) must prove that the the injured cyclist’s behavior contributed to their injuries. Specifically, they need to demonstrate that wearing a helmet would have mitigated or decreased the injuries. They also must show to what extent wearing a helmet could have lessened the injuries.

This is not a straightforward process. The defendant needs to provide concrete evidence, often involving expert medical testimony, to establish that the absence of a helmet played a significant role in the extent of the injuries.

To give you an example, Auger Hollingsworth represented a teenager who suffered a head injury when she and her bike were hot by a truck.  When we negotiated a settlement for the girl, there was no reduction for contributory negligence even though she was not wearing a helmet.  This is because we were able to show that she landed on her face.  A helmet would not have made a difference to the injury she suffered.

Applying Contributory Negligence in Court

When a judge considers contributory negligence, they apply it as a percentage. For example, if a cyclist is found to be 20% responsible for their injuries due to not wearing a helmet, their compensation might be reduced by 20%. This means if the total damages amount to $100,000, the cyclist would receive $80,000 after the reduction.

This percentage is carefully determined based on the specifics of each case, taking into account the evidence presented about the injuries and the role a helmet could have played in preventing or reducing them.

Seeking Legal Advice

If you have suffered an injury in a cycling accident in Ontario, it is crucial to seek legal advice, even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time. Contacting a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and the potential impacts on your claim.

Auger Hollingsworth offers a free consultation to injured cyclists. We can provide you with the necessary legal guidance and help determine the viability of your claim. Most of the time, injured cyclists will still receive meaningful compensation for their injuries, despite the complexities involved.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the aftermath of a cycling accident can be challenging, especially when questions about helmet use and contributory negligence arise. However, with the right legal support, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Auger Hollingsworth for the guidance you need.

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