Occasionally a cyclist will collide with a pedestrian, or indeed another cyclist, where the collision is the other person’s fault. Where this happens, the actual law is no different than if the collision had been caused by a motorist: if the other person has been negligent, then you will have a valid claim for compensation.
However, where these claims differ is in whether or not that other person is insured, or if not, has the financial means to pay any successful claim and legal fees arising. It is of little use making a successful claim if, at the end of it, you receive no compensation for your injuries and losses. This question will not usually arise in relation to claims against motorists as they are required by law to have insurance covering them, and for those who have no such cover the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) will deal with the claim in lieu of an insurer. However, the MIB only deals with claims involving motor vehicles. They will not deal with claims against pedestrians or cyclists.
People often get confused over the insurance position for legal claims: insurance which covers a claim made against you is different from insurance covering you for legal costs of any claim made by you against another person.
Many cyclists will hold insurance which covers them for claims made against them for their own negligence which causes loss to another person. Basic membership of both the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) and British Cycling Federation gives this cover (called ‘third party liability cover’), subject to some exceptions brought in recently, which excludes cover for the rider when competing in The League International (TLI) and League of Veteran Racing Cyclists (LVRC) events.
Even if there is no cover by this route, the vast majority of people hold household insurance which covers them (and, usually, anyone else living in their household – e.g. a child, spouse or adult offspring) for public liability. This insurance gives third party cover and will usually cover both cyclists and pedestrians for claims made against them when walking or cycling, and not just claims connected to their house. The actual terms of the insurance policy will set out what it covers but most people don’t even realise that they have this cover until it is explained to them. So there is a reasonable chance that, one way or another, the person who caused your accident will have some form of insurance.
If the person who caused your accident is not insured, then you will have to consider whether or not they would have the financial means to pay any judgment against them. Factors such as whether they are employed, or whether they own their own house will give an indication of this.