September 20, 2016

Making a foreign cycling holiday injury claim

Posted in Injury, Road accidents
Cycling abroad

We often represent individuals who are injured after being hit by a foreign driver on a cycling holiday and have put together a few examples from our experience to help you understand your rights and what to think about when making a foreign cycling accident claim.

Where would the court proceedings take place?

In very simple terms, if a road traffic accident happened in Europe you can sue in the courts of your home country. That is the benefit of a piece of European legislation known colloquially as Rome II.

If the accident happened outside Europe the claim will have be made in that country. There are exceptions to this rule which can be explained by your specialist cycling solicitor.

Which law applies?

Interestingly even if the claim can be made in your home court it is the law of the country where the accident happened that should be applied. This may be helpful because in some countries eligibility for compensation is more relaxed than in this country.

Read more from Mark Hambleton > 

Calculating compensation

Again the Courts in this country will calculate compensation according to the country where the accident happened. The systems of compensation can vary widely and the resulting compensation might contrast very differently to what would be received in this country.

Injured cyclists often have the option of bringing a personal injury action against the negligent motorist's insurer directly. Where an accident occurs abroad and the insurer is based outside England and Wales but inside the EU, helpful rules on jurisdiction often permit English courts to determine claims, which can be of great benefit to English cyclists.

Package Holidays

If you were injured during a cycling trip as part of a package holiday then your approach is more straightforward. This is thanks to a regulation implemented to deal with differences in approach between European countries regarding travel services and packages. This directive places responsibility on the package tour provider.

However as holiday makers have become more confident travellers, the type of ‘package holiday’ being sold has changed. The issue is that the broad European directive, which places the obligation on the tour provider, is pinned to the definition of a ‘package holiday’.

This needs some more careful scrutiny.

Travel agents and tour operators may seek to avoid the obligation by offering a slightly different package. However the ATOL Regulations 2012 protect those travelling on something called a 'Flight-Plus' arrangement, which might more accurately reflect the reality of modern day cycling holidays. This provides protection whenever a flight out of the UK is sold with accommodation and/or car hire outside of the UK.

Claims under the Package Holiday Regulations act are commonly made on the basis that an accident was caused by 'a failure to perform the contract or the improper performance of the contract'. For example, providing unsuitable bike hire, or a failure in exercising reasonable care and skill when leading a group ride as part of a trip.

There are statutory defences which should be considered on a case by case basis. Such claims for package holidays should fall under ‘the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992’, and should be brought at home in England or Wales.


The remedies available to an injured cyclist differ depending on the nature of the claim they pursue. It is often vitally important for your specialist cycling injury solicitor at home to consult with a solicitor in the country where the accident occurs to compare the approach in that country to the approach in England and Wales for awarding damages. This is obviously going to be a very important consideration in deciding the country in which to bring the claim.

Untraced or Uninsured Drivers Abroad

If an accident is caused by uninsured or ‘hit and run’ drivers in this country the Motor Insurers Bureau that will pay compensation subject to short and strict time limits. If this type of accident happens in Europe then the MIB will again in principle pay compensation.

Where a similar accident happens in other countries then local law applies and your foreign accident solicitor should advise on eligibility for compensation.

If you’ve been involved in a cycling accident whilst abroad then you can always contact our team of specialist cycling solicitors to discuss bringing a compensation claim.

Important things to consider when it comes to claiming

So here are a few important things to consider before going on a foreign cycling holiday that I have picked up as both a passionate cyclist, and as a solicitor who specialises in cycling claims.

Call your insurer

Before the Paris ride I contacted my travel insurer to see if I was covered. As a regular cyclist, I was confident that I would be insured against any injuries or equipment damage that I might suffer in France; however, it was not that straight forward.

My insurer told me that I would not be covered for such losses as the purpose of my trip was for ‘cycle touring’ rather than ‘short journeys on a bike’ that were ‘incidental to a leisure or sightseeing holiday’. In this case the insurer drew the distinction between a cycling holiday and a holiday where you may or may not hire or ride a bike.

However, for less than ten pounds I took out a specific cycle touring policy that covered me in the event of a bike accident, theft etc. The policy covered expenses such as; medical treatment, damage to my bike, damage to my clothing and helmet. Considering the value of all my kit, (and my physical health) this gave me some piece of mind.

Check your insurer’s accreditation

One thing to double check is that your insurance provider is recognised abroad. Unfortunately a friend had a cycling accident while abroad only to find that his insurance cover was not accepted by the overseas hospital because the insurer’s accreditation was not “recognised”.

I have to admit that in the past I have not checked that my insurer’s accreditation would be widely accepted abroad, but I do now. There are many insurance websites that offer impartial information, as well as forums. Spend a little time doing some research, ask for recommendations, or purchase through an insurer that is recognised internationally.

Understand what is covered

I would also recommend checking the terms of your policy to be clear about whether your bike, helmet and kit will be replaced on a new for old basis, or on the basis that you will receive the market value for the items.

My bike is insured (in England) as an add-on to my home insurance policy, but this may not necessarily be the case for everybody. You should find out whether your bike is covered away from your home, in a foreign country especially if it was stolen or vandalised while abroad. It is really worth your time to check these details out, and it can usually be achieved with a short phone call.

Carry copies and keep your EHIC close

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) guarantees you the right to receive state-provided healthcare in a European country, at the same cost as a resident of that country. It does not guarantee free health care, and should not be considered as an alternative to travel insurance. It is important to keep the card with you at all times as it should be presented as soon as possible should you require treatment.

You might also want to carry copies of your ID, passport and insurance documents with you while you are cycling. In a medical emergency you do not want to delay treatment and in some countries not having access to the necessary information, or proof of cover may prolong what can be a very traumatic experience.

What to do after a collision or crash?

If you or one of your party is injured as a result of a road traffic incident or dangerous road surface, then the most important thing is to ensure their immediate safety. However, a good rule to follow would be to behave as if you were cycling in the UK.

This means seeking contact details, registration plates, and where possible insurance details. It may also be a good idea to take photographic evidence, as long as it is safe to do so.

If you feel your accident was the fault of a motorist who knocked you off your bike for example, you should wait until you return home before taking advice from a solicitor practising in England and Wales. This applies whether or not you were on a package holiday at the time of the accident.

We are experienced in advising on the best approach to take in bringing personal injury claims for accidents abroad.

Read more posts on your legal rights as a cyclist > 

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