Case Law and Articles
Serious injury claims - December 2012
I helped to set up Barratts Motorcycle Solicitors in 2008 so that I could provide the best possible claims service to bikers who had been injured in accidents. I chose to set up in conjunction with Barratt Goff & Tomlinson who were already recognised by the guides to the legal profession as being the top firm in the Midlands for handling major compensation claims; they already had a national reputation for acting for bikers who had suffered very serious injuries, particularly spinal cord injury, brain damage, amputation and brachial plexus injuries.
My previous have concentrated upon particular legal issues e.g. filtering, and the need to appoint specialist solicitors rather than just accepting those given to you by your legal expense insurers (or more likely those who have purchased your case from legal expense insurers).
This article is a bit different as I have asked my colleague, David Tomlinson, to talk about serious injury claims.
David Tomlinson writes:-
I was one of the founding partners of Barratt Goff & Tomlinson and we now have a team of seven highly experienced solicitors, who specialise in personal injury and clinical negligence claims, particularly those involving injuries of the utmost severity. Our experience is recognised by others in the profession and for the past 21 years we have been recommended as the top firm carrying out this type of work by the Legal 500 and Chambers Directories (these directories are not fee paying and are based upon recommendations made by other lawyers and experts).
What is that we do that is different to other firms? Well, firstly we fight for the best possible, speedy settlement. Secondly, we strive to put the client first and do everything in our power to help rebuild their lives that have often been devastated by serious, life changing injuries.
As soon as we are contacted by a potential client (or more often by their family if the injury is very severe) we feel that it is important to see the client and their family at the hospital or rehabilitation unit as soon as possible rather than sit at our desk and ask them to complete endless forms. Liaison with the client, their family and the hospital staff is of paramount importance as our aim is to take an active part in the client’s rehabilitation and eventual discharge from hospital.
Many of our clients spend the first 6 months or so following their accident in a specialist hospital or rehabilitation unit. During that time we will work with the insurers to obtain substantial interim payments to cover not only our clients loss of earnings, expenses etc., but substantial funding is required to enable us to set up a complete regime of care and support ready for the client once discharge takes place.
We will usually appoint an experienced case manager and we will work alongside her in making sure that our client is discharged to specially adapted accommodation (sometimes alterations to their existing home or often the purchase and adaptation of a bungalow) and that a full nursing and care regime is in place and necessary therapies are available to help the client continue with rehabilitation following discharge. We also help to put in place the necessary equipment that the client may need such as wheelchairs, hoists, physiotherapy equipment and an appropriate, accessible vehicle.
Once our client is home there will be an initial period whilst they get used to their new circumstances. The next phase of the process which involves intensive therapies and as the client recovers we also look, in appropriate cases, to help with potential return to work or study.
During this period many of our clients are also encouraged to help maximise their recovery through sport and activities. Most of our biker clients seem to gravitate towards motor sports or getting back on to two wheels (sometimes with special adaptations to bikes etc.). Many clients take part in a huge variety of sporting and leisure activities. We take an active role in helping out some of the leading charities in the country who specialise in disability sports.
Some of our clients have progressed to international level and we have had clients representing the GB Paralympics team in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, equestrian events and swimming.
We are immensely proud of the achievements of all of our clients but are particularly proud of one of our clients who managed to obtain gold, silver and bronze medals in the London 2012 Paralympics.
Once our clients medical condition starts to stabilise we can plan their likely future and with the help of various experts it is possible to predict the extra costs and expenses that will be incurred in order to care for their needs for the rest of their lives. At that stage we are able to move towards either a negotiated settlement of the claim or a trial.
We continue to play a key role in our clients lives after their cases have settled as are solicitors are appointed Deputies by the Court of Protection on behalf of those clients who are not able to manage their own affairs due to lack of mental capacity after an accident.
At Barratt Goff & Tomlinson we like to think that we go the extra mile to help our clients. We recognise that they have been injured as a result of the fault of someone else, their lives have been changed forever and, importantly, they only get one go at claiming compensation. We like to look after our clients from day one but we recognise that many clients and their families are initially happy to go along with whatever solicitor has been given to them by their legal expense insurers or have been recommended to them by a friend. Unfortunately, not all solicitors are equal and cases involving injuries of the utmost severity have to be handled differently. A lot of our major cases are transferred to us several months or even several years after the accident as the client and their family recognises that their case has not progressed properly and they have not been given all of the support that they need in relation to interim payments etc. We are always happy to try and pick up the pieces and we will provide a free, initial consultation to anyone who has been involved in a serious accident and who is not satisfied with their current solicitors.
All of our clients who have suffered serious injuries, without exception, would want to turn back the clock. Unfortunately, that cannot happen but with the right specialist solicitor involved it is possible to improve the quality of life of somebody who has been severely injured beyond all recognition.
If you would like to speak to John Measures then contact him on 0115 931 5167 /
0800 031 3065 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Raid ‘12 Impossible Mission
When visiting Australia in November 2012, I met a biker, Ed Pitman who kindly gave me a video he had produced following a trip he and several other Australians had done that year, riding Moto-X bikes across the outback. These guys are tough and a little crazy but had a fantastic journey. Ed has given me permission to share the video, so follow this link and enjoy.
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Filtering – Updated August 2012
I have updated this topic since I last wrote the article on filtering in August 2008. The courts view remains fairly constant. If you are filtering and collide with a vehicle turning out of or into a junction, then you are likely to be found party at fault. The degree of fault and in turn, the amount of compensation you will lose, will depend on the specifics facts of the case. The court will also take into consideration the speed at which you were travelling.
Burton v Evitt (2011)
A car at the front of a queue was indicating to turn into a car park. He checked his mirror but saw nothing except a larger vehicle behind him. As the car was turning, a motorcycle which was overtaking the queue of stationary traffic collided with the car. Initially the judge found the car driver one-third to blame and the motorcyclist who suffered severe injuries, two-thirds at fault. On appeal, the court accepted that the car driver should have inched out when turning especially as there was a large vehicle behind him. However, the motorcyclist was riding at an unsafe speed and was found to be more blameworthy. On review, the Court of Appeal found the motorcyclist 80% at fault and he therefore recovered only 20% of his damages.
Vincent Ringe v Eden Springs (uk) Ltd (2012)
A motorcyclist was travelling on a single carriageway with a 40mph limit following a lorry. The opposite carriageway was separated by a hatched area bordered by a broken line. A van was waiting at a junction to the left intending to turn right onto the main road. He saw the lorry about 60 metres away and considered he had sufficient time to safely turn out of the junction. At this time, the motorcyclist began to overtake the lorry entering the cross hatched markings. He saw the van but was unable to stop and collided with the van. The motorcyclist said that he was travelling at about 50 mph whereas witnesses had his speed between 60 and 70 mph. The court found that the van driver should have waited until he had a clear view before making his manoeuvre. However, the court also found that the motorcyclist, who was experienced and familiar with the layout of the road knowing that he was approaching a junction to his left, bore considerable responsibility. He breached the Highway Code as it was unnecessary to enter the hatched area and was travelling excessively beyond the speed limit. The motorcyclist was found to be 80% contributory negligent.
Woodham v Turner (2012)
The driver of a coach which had been travelling along a minor road, stopped at T-junction intending to turn right. There were road works with temporary traffic lights and a queue of stationary traffic to the left of the junction. A large tractor with a trailer had stopped to the right of the coach and left a gap so the coach could turn right onto the main road. Two motorcycles were travelling along the main road approaching the road works and the tractor ahead. The lead bike stopped behind the tractor but the second bike overtook the tractor and collided with the emerging coach which had emerged slowly but at an angle, rather than straight on. In the collision, the motorcyclist suffered spinal injuries which rendered him paralysed. Initially the judge at first instance found that the coach was more blameworthy due turning right onto the main road when their view was obscured and could not see if another road user was overtaking on the offside of the stationary traffic. The judge found that the coach could have waited for a smaller vehicle to the right and had come out of the junction straight on rather than at an angle which would have given the coach driver a better view. The judge found the coach driver 70% to blame and the motorcyclist 30% at fault. However on appeal, the judge found that the coach driver should have waited for a better view to the right. Equally however, the court found that the motorcyclist elected to filter along the offside of the queue of traffic when a gap had been left by the tractor gave rise to a foreseeable risk that a vehicle would come out of the junction. The Court of Appeal found therefore that both parties were equally to blame and apportioned liability on a 50/50 basis.
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The Bike Experience – June 2012
I have been a specialist motorcycle accident solicitor for the past 25 years and I am never ceased to be amazed at the resilience of bikers who have been in accident which have caused life changing catastrophic injuries. Perhaps I shouldn’t be that surprised as when I am asked why I ride motorcycles when I deal with bikers on a daily basis who have suffered catastrophic injuries, I cannot understand why not. Having ridden for the last 40 years, it still makes me feel full of life and one of the most exciting things a person can do, not to mention that you are never short of real friends. After all, being a biker is who I am and that is what I do.
The view taken by most of my clients is that, well it’s happened and there is nothing they can do to change that. Their main concern is getting the best quality of life they can, having regard to the injury they have suffered. This mainly involves getting on a bike as soon as possible, quite often with much resistance of their partner. I cannot count the number of times I have seen a biker plastered up to the eyeballs looking at bike magazines thinking of what bike they are going to get next. Most of the time, their new bike is in the garage before they can even get on it.
I first met Talan Skeels-Piggins at a track event at Silverstone a couple of years ago. I had just come back from the Nurburgring on the Busa and thought I was a Track God. I saw this guy being helped from a wheelchair onto a bike. When the session started, the paddock stand was removed and he was launched. The only time I saw him on track after that, was when he passed me...on several occasions!!
I then met Talan again at the NEC bike show last year. He told me about an incentive he had developed called The Bike Experience. He had started a charity that helped spinally injured bikers, most of whom were paralysed in motorcycle accidents, to again get on a bike. They do these using specially adapted bikes at a race track. Many would think this was pure madness but it seemed to me the most natural thing to do. He explained that they need volunteers to act as launchers and catchers. They work in a team of three with a guest rider. There are usually three guest riders at each event. The bike is put on a paddock stand and the rider is helped from the wheelchair onto the bike. One holds the bike upright at the front and the other, at the back. The third crew member removed the paddock stand. The riders feet are put into stirrups and the legs are secured to the bike with Velcro. Once the rider is perfectly square on the bike, the rider starts the engine and engages gear. When he is ready, the front person moves away whilst the bike is held upright by the one at the back. The rider then applies acceleration and off they go. When they want to stop, the crew gets ready for them and one catches the bike as it comes to a stop whilst the other moves and holds the rear of the bike. Simples and it works extremely well. Once the rider is confident with the bike, they go onto the track with an instructor for a session. The event usually takes place on a track day and they get the circuit during the lunch recess for about one hour, so they have the circuit to themselves.
It wasn’t too difficult to organise a group of bikers to go down to Castle Coombe to help out. Five from the Suzuki Owners Club Central were joined by four Blue Knights and two others. We made our way to the circuit where we were warmly greeted by the organisers and met the remaining group who had ridden there direct. Following bacon butty we got started with the three guest riders. Everything was done with the upmost professionalism. Unfortunately, the rain came down but this did not dampen the spirits.
It was then time for the track session. The rain stopped and the track dried. Someone was smiling down on us. I was invited to be one of the guest instructors and I asked for the slowest rider. No chance. Paul was an ex 125 racer and left me for dead. I was wragging the dickens out of my bike but could not keep up with the SV650 he was riding. I got the usual sympathetic comments from my so called friends asking if I had taken it out of first gear or had one of my plug leads fell off. At the end of the day, everyone had a grin from ear to ear. One of the riders had his wife with him and it was very emotional to see how very proud she was of him. It was a very humbling experience. I think I must have got something in my eye at that moment....well that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.
The Bike Experience is a charity and relies on the goodwill of, mainly, bikers who give their time freely to help out at their events. They run on limited financial resources but do a fantastic job. If you want to know more, there is a lot about this on the internet www.thebikeexperience.co.uk and they are also on Facebook. Please look at these and confirm that you press the “like” button on their Facebook page so they get as much coverage as possible. If you can spare a day to go over and help at one of their events, they will make you feel very welcome. After all, what is one day out of your life to help a fellow biker? You will get out as much from it as they will.
Best wishes and ride safe.
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It shouldn’t happen to a Biker – May 2012
Let me introduce Kevin Farquhar, a member of a local Bike Club. He rides a CBF1000 which is on an 07 plate. He is married to Zoe who works part time and has two lovely children, Ben aged 14 years and Kim aged 8 years. He is a plasterer employed by ZZ Builders. He has a mortgage and the usual monthly expenses. By the way, this person is totally fictitious and any resemblance to a person, living or dead is purely coincidental.
The accident – On 30th June, It was a lovely day and Kevin decided to go for a ride on his own and nowhere in particular. He was travelling along Main Street, Anytown a built up area subject to a 30 mph limit. He was doing 30 mph when he saw a car to his left, intending to turn right out of Acacia Avenue, a side street to his left. As Kevin approached the junction, the car suddenly pulled out and into collision with Kevin’s motorcycle.
Immediately following the collision - Kevin was thrown from his bike and hit the road hard. He was dazed, confused and in pain from his left wrist, back and chest. He looked over and his bike was badly damaged. He was able to get up, when the driver of the car came over to him and said in a very aggressive manner, “You were going like a Bat out of Hell”. A lady then came over and asked if he was alright and that she had called the police………What should Kevin do now?
Kevin’s Immediate response – I fully appreciate that Kevin’s adrenalin will be flowing and he will be very shocked and confused. I have been there myself but he can do some simple things which will save an awful lot of problems in the future. He doesn’t argue with the driver but concentrates on the important To Do Checklist.
- He takes photos of the crash scene on his mobile phone before any of the vehicles are moved. This includes the registration plate of the other car
- He speaks to the lady who initially came over and asks if she saw what happened. She said that she did as she was following him. He asks her to write down her name, address and contact phone number, which she is happy to do and hands him this information on a piece of paper. He asks her to do this as his mind is racing and he may get the information wrong. He asks that she waits for the police to arrive, so that she can also give them her details. She agrees.
- He also looks to see if there is anyone else there to ask them if they also saw the incident and get their details but there is no-one else around.
- He then politely speaks to the driver to get his registration number (although Kevin has taken a photo of his number plate) name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number. All this information is given except the policy number as the driver does not have his insurance certificate with him, which is quite usual. Under S.154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a person commits an offence if he refuses without good cause to give this information to the other person involved in the collision. The other driver therefore had cooperated in accordance with S.154.
The Police and Ambulance arrives – The police initially speak to both of them and move the vehicles. They carry out their initial investigations taking further details from both Kevin and the other driver. They also speak to the lady who witnessed the accident. The police officer breathalyses Kevin and the other driver who both prove negative. They advise that they will complete their enquiries and may have to speak with them again at some time in the future. In the meantime, they allow the other driver to leave the scene as his car is still driveable. Kevin does not have accident recovery, so the police arrange for their recovery agents to collect the bike. Kevin is checked over by the ambulance crew who say that they believe his injuries are soft tissue only but offer to take him to the hospital to be checked out. He says that he would prefer to go home and seek further medical attention if he needs this. The ambulance crew hands Kevin the Patient Assessment Form for him to keep and asks him to sign a refusal to attend hospital form. Kevin rings his wife Zoe who collects him. By this time his bike has been taken by the recovery company giving him a form confirming where the bike will be taken and their fees.
Zoe and taken home and during the evening, the symptoms in his back, chest and left wrist became much worse as the adrenalin left his system. He also had difficulties sleeping due to the pain and he was also constantly going over the accident. He was worried about his bike and knew that he wasn’t fit to go into work. The next morning, he went to go to his GP who prescribed strong pain killers and advised Kevin to go to the hospital to get his back, left wrist and chest x-rayed. The GP signed him off work for 2 weeks. This meant that he would be on Statutory Sick Pay only.
He phoned his insurance company who recorded the accident but confirmed that he was insured on a Third Party Fire & Theft basis, so the damage to his bike was his concern. However, they said that he had Legal Expense cover and they would pass his information onto their panel solicitor. Kevin had read somewhere that it was common practice for insurers to sell the claims onto their panel solicitors but he also recalled that he could instruct a solicitor of his choice. He wanted a specialist biker lawyer who was a qualified solicitor and would fight his corner. His friend had recently been involved in an accident and told him to ring John, a solicitor, which he did.
What immediate action did John, the solicitor take? –
- He found out where the bike was recovered to and asked Kevin if he had a preferred bike dealer. Kevin said that he wanted to use his local Honda Dealer where he bought the bike from. John rang the dealer who said that they were happy to collect the bike, pay the recovery and storage charges and add these to their invoice which will eventually be sent to the other driver’s insurer. They would prepare an estimate of repair and send this to John within a few days.
- There is a new RTA claims procedure which came into force on 30th April 2010. It is a streamlined process for dealing with low value road traffic accidents where the claim reflecting the injuries alone is worth between £1000 and £10,000. John did a Motor Insurers Data Base check on the other driver’s registration number to make sure that the insurance details the driver gave were correct and then completed the Claims Notification Form which contains all relevant information to allow the other driver’s insurer to investigate the claim. The CNF was then electronically transmitted to the other driver’s insurer. He advised the insurers where the bike could be inspected (at the Honda Dealer) and that an estimate will follow in a few days. He also said that he wanted an assessment under the Rehabilitation code for immediate physiotherapy to help with Kevin’s recovery. Kevin had told John that the other driver said he was riding too fast which was untrue and gave John the witness details.
- John sent a letter to Kevin outlining all the action he had taken and how the claim would proceed from there together with how a personal injury claim is calculated. He advised Kevin that the insurer had 15 working days to respond to the CNF and admit or deny fault. He also advised Kevin exactly what information he had to keep, so that John could calculate his financial losses.
- John also sent a letter to Kevin’s insurer confirming that he was acting on his behalf and that they should not take any action which would prejudice Kevin’s claim (such as admitting any fault on Kevin’s behalf)
The Insurers Response – Within a couple of weeks, the insurers replied and you won’t be surprised if I tell you that although they accepted their insured was partly at fault, they said that Kevin should also accept some responsibility because he was riding too fast. They suggested that each party should be equally to blame and offered a deal at 50/50. However, as they accepted that their insured was partly to blame and they would have to make some payment to Kevin, as requested, they would arrange immediate physiotherapy. If they didn’t, John could have done so. The insurer has also confirmed that they have sent their assessor to inspect Kevin’s motorcycle. As liability had not fully been accepted, the claim automatically exited the MOJ scheme and fell within the Civil Procedure Rules, Pre Action Protocol which simply provides different procedures that the claim has to follow.
The Solicitors Response – John telephones the witness and takes a statement which is sent to her to sign and return. She says that she was following Kevin about three car lengths behind and both were travelling no more than 30 mph. She says that the car simply pulled out in front of Kevin when he was virtually at the junction leaving Kevin no opportunity to avoid the collision. John also contacts the police who say that their enquiries are continuing and therefore the collision report is not yet available. He also telephones Kevin and advises that liability is in dispute and that he is awaiting the return of the statement. Kevin says that he has received a form from the police regarding the circumstances of the accident which he will fill in and return. He also advised John that he had been to the hospital the day after the accident as requested by his GP where it was found that he had suffered soft tissue injuries to his lower back, a fracture of a small bone in his left wrist and had possible fractured a rib. The hospital said that he could have physio for his back but there was a waiting list. There was no specific treatment for the rib fracture but his left wrist was put in plaster for 6 weeks. He would therefore be on SSP for at least another 4 to 5 weeks. The insurers had arranged private physio to treat the injury to his back in accordance with the agreement with John. John confirmed that the insurer have authorised the Honda Dealer to carry out the repairs and to invoice them direct. As Kevin is unable to ride due to his injuries, there is no point in obtaining a replacement hire bike whilst his is being repaired. Kevin can liaise with the Honda Dealer to deliver the bike back to him following repair.
What happens next? – The signed statement comes in from the witness. John sends this to the insurer together with the copy photographs sent to him by Kevin and invites then to reconsider their position on liability failing which, he will obtain an interim medical report and issue court proceedings (a medical report is required to be served with the court papers and can be obtained within 2-3 weeks). He also requests an interim payment to help Kevin who is on SSP.
Liability – The insurers faced with an independent witness statement and not wishing to increase costs unnecessarily formally admits liability and confirms that they accept their insured was fully at fault for the accident. They also send an interim payment to John who forwards this to Kevin. John also telephones Kevin to advise that liability is admitted and a cheque is on its way. He also advises Kevin what happens next.
Important points to note:-
- The witness evidence and photographs were crucial in persuading the insurers to admit full liability. The court places a great deal of weight on independent witness evidence as they have no axe to grind, particularly if that witness evidence is reliable.
- Kevin took the witness details at the scene and asked her to wait for the police to arrive. He was then able to pass these onto John. Note that the police will not release witness details whilst their enquiries are continuing. Their report will not be available until either they decide to take no further action or until after a criminal prosecution has been heard by the court. This could lead to a considerable delay Kevin’s own claim as the insurers may want to wait for the police report to be made available before they comment on liability. Some police forces will blank out the witness details when sending their report. They will then charge a fee to forward on an insurer or solicitor letter to the witness who then may decide whether or not to respond. Remember, Kevin was on SSP and was able to get an early interim payment due to the insurers being persuaded to admit liability.
- Physiotherapy for the back injury was arranged quite quickly. This can aid recovery and get Kevin, not only back to work as soon as possible but also back on his bike.
- In some comprehensive policies, there is a condition that the insurer can nominate the repairer. If not, then, you can choose who you use. Personally, I would prefer to go to my local dealer rather than a national repair centre. In this case, Kevin was insured on a TPF&T basis and therefore, the claim for repair or agreement of the pre-accident value (PAV) if beyond economical repair, was referred to the other driver’s insurer. Even if the client is comprehensively insured, I will always consider involving the other driver’s insurer as they have a vested interest in arranging the repairs or PAV as soon as possible to keep the claim to a reasonable level.
- Kevin used a solicitor of his own choice. Your insurer will try and persuade you to use their panel solicitor as they receive a fee from the solicitor for selling the claim to them. Many large panel firms employ non-legally qualified staff known as claims advisers, litigation assistants or litigation executives who uses a computer system to progress the claim. Kevin made his choice on personal recommendation. He will continue to receive 100% of his compensation whist being represented by an experienced qualified biker solicitor who will treat him as an individual. There only a few out there, so choose carefully.
There are two elements to compensation; General Damages which reflects the injury(s) sustained; the extent and duration of symptoms suffered; and how the injury(s) affected the client in their work, social and domestic activities (in other words, loss of amenity). This should be specifically calculated to that client as every individual is different. A fractured wrist is a fractured wrist but it can differ in severity and period of recovery. This injury can have more effect on say, a young concert pianist rather than an elderly office worker. A simple fracture is different to a complicated one that requires surgery, plating and possible long term restriction. Lawyers use three things to assess what compensation the individual is entitled to: The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages, which is a publication that has every injury that you would never want to have and guides as to what they are worth: Kemp & Kemp or other similar publications that have reported cases on all types of injuries which have been decided by a Judge: and thirdly, the lawyers own experience of what the case is worth and their negotiating skills.
The second element to compensation is Special Damages. This is to reflect money spent or lost as a direct result of the accident, such as wage loss, travelling, medication, damage to clothing and equipment etc. A person seeking compensation is under a duty to mitigate their loss that is to keep losses to a minimum and reasonable. Early discussions with a solicitor will assist the client to identify what losses can be claimed and if they are recoverable as well as ensuring that appropriate support facilities are made available to the client (physiotherapy, hire bike etc).
In Kevin’s specific case, his claim was calculated as follows:-
General Damages – His injuries included soft tissue injuries to his neck and lower back; possible fracture to a rib; and a fracture of the left wrist. He was in plaster for 4 weeks during which time he had physio on his neck and back. Once the plaster was removed, he also had 5 sessions of physio on his wrist. There was no treatment for the fracture to the rib save for prescription painkillers for the first few weeks. He made a full recovery from his neck and back within 3 months and his chest was sore for 6 weeks. He had made a full recovery from his wrist with no restriction of movement or risk of arthritis within 6 months. Kevin is 38 years old and is a plasterer by trade. He was unable to work for 7 weeks and the injury affected his social and domestic activities. Luckily his holiday here in the UK was planned at the end of July and although his enjoyment was slightly affected, he was still able to go. He needed help for the first few weeks with his personal care and domestic chores. More importantly, he was unable to ride his bike for 7 weeks and missed out on a number of rallies and ride-outs. When returning to motorcycling, Kevin had no travel anxiety and was just pleased to get back in the saddle. Taking all of this into consideration his claim for General Damages was in a range of £5,000 to £5,500. The insurers wanted to make an offer without the need to obtain a formal medical report of £3000. This was rejected. John obtained Kevin’s medical records and x-ray’s (with Kevin’s written permission) and instructed an orthopaedic consultant to prepare a medico-legal report. This was served on the insurers and after some negotiation; General Damages were negotiated at the top of the assessment range.
Special Damages – This is a list of expenses that John prepared from the information given by Kevin who signs a statement of truth at the end of the schedule.
- Loss of earnings. John also obtained Kevin’s pre and post-accident earning details from ZZ Builders and was able to provide a calculation of what Kevin would have earned had the accident not occurred. June to August is the company’s busiest months and this seasonal variance was taken into consideration in the final calculation. Kevin received SSP which will be deducted from the amount to put Kevin in exactly the same financial situation. The insurers are required to reimburse the DWP all benefits received by Kevin as a direct result of the accident.
- Damage to Motorcycle. The insurers agreed the estimate prepared by the local Honda dealer together with cost of recovery and storage. As the repairs were paid the other driver’s insurer, Kevin did not have to pay a policy excess which John would have added to the list otherwise.
- Damage to clothing and Equipment. The motorcycle helmet and clothing was listed and photographs of the damage were taken. A list was prepared confirming make, model, date purchased and how much was paid. John advised Kevin not to dispose of the equipment until settlement has been achieved. A certain amount would be deducted for wear and tear unless the items were relatively new. The insurers said that they would not make any payment unless receipts were available. John advised that unless payment was agreed, he would take them to court and put all the items before the judge. The insurers agreed to pay!
- Travel expenses. A list of all travel was prepared confirming the date of travel, destination, purpose of visit and return mileage if by car, or taxi/bus receipt. Mileage is calculated at 45p per mile. Car parking charges were also claimed when Kevin attended hospital and physio.
- Care. Kevin needed help with his personal care as well as Ben (his son) having to cut the grass, tend the garden and clean the cars. This time was calculated at £6.50 per hour x 22 hours.
- Medication. Kevin had to pay for one prescription together with over the counter pain killers. He failed to keep receipts but this was calculated and included. Physo was organised by John and paid by the insurers direct.
- Loss of Rally Fees. Kevin had pre-booked two rally fees that he was unable to attend and no refund was given. This was claimed in the schedule.
After a detailed assessment of Kevin’s specific circumstances, no other direct losses were identified and the schedule was prepared and sent to the insurer with the evidence of loss of earnings, photos of the damaged clothing/equipment and any receipts Kevin was able to provide. The insurers made the usual comments but agreed all losses in full after being advised that unless the matter can be resolved amicably, court proceeding would be issued. Any interim payments were taken into account and Kevin’s final compensation award was agreed. Within two weeks, Kevin’s cheque was received and sent to him who settled his claim without deduction. John then sorted out his costs with the insurer.
I hope that you have found these three articles of assistance in understanding how a personal injury claim is calculated and has identified some of the pitfalls. The important thing is to get immediate advice from someone who is qualified and experienced in this type of work, whether it’s me or another specialist biker solicitor. Make that your First Call as the solicitor can provide you with straight forward personal one to one advice. They can also arrange hire bike/car facilities with rehabilitation if required as well as liaising with your own insurer.
I have been a biker for 40 years and a lawyer for over 30 years. My contact numbers are 0115 931 5167 or 0800 021 3065. These are linked to my mobile, so I can be contacted out of office hours (subject to not being on the bike!). My e-mail is email@example.com
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Why Choose Barratts Motorcycle Solicitors - August 2010
Barratt, Goff & Tomlinson are one of the UK’s leading regional law firms specialising in personal injury and clinical negligence. Barratts have been given top honours in both the Legal 500 and Chambers Directory published this year with comments of “second to none” and “absolutely on top of the detail of their cases and always exercise good judgment”. For many years, Barratts have represented clients in high profile cases, many of them involving motorcyclists who have suffered serious injury.
I joined Barratts in July 2008 to head their Motorcycle Claims Division. I am a member of the IAM, a motorcycle instructor and have been a motorcyclist for nearly 40years. My professional qualifications include being a solicitor, Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives, Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and member of the Law Society Panel. I have over 25 years experience in dealing with personal injury claims. Similarly, each of my colleagues is renowned as being highly respected legal professionals.
The ethos of this firm is to provide clients with an individual and professional service irrespective of whether the claim involves a simple injury or a case of utmost severity. Indeed, Jill Barratt has recently received a testimonial from one of her clients in a case which settled for £4,200. The client said, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the way you have handled this claim. Considering I was not even going to bother pursuing it in the first instance, all I can say is I am glad I did! You have provided an excellent service, prompt replies at every stage, clear and concise advice, and ultimately a compensation payment which was far greater than I had expected. I have already recommended you to two other colleagues”.
This is in stark contrast to many of the larger firms. A letter was written by a claims handler and published in the Law Society Gazette in April 2009. The writer said that he was expected to run nearly 200 cases and never had the time to visit a client or run through the evidence before trial due to his other cases. He went on to say that the emphasis on all these firms is profit, no matter what the cost and the referral fees just mean that they can continue to do shoddy work as long as they can pay the referral fee. He suggested there needed to be monitoring of the kind of service provided by these insurance-run firms to ensure a good level of service can be offered, as well as profit made. This is NOT how we at Barratts conduct claims.
It is right and proper that we recognise the support given to us by Bikers who recommend our services to family or friends, by paying a £100 referral fee to them on acceptance of each claim that we progress.
This brings me onto the additional benefits that Barratts Motorcycle Solicitors can offer:-
- I can be contacted on 0800 0213065 or 0115 9315167. These numbers are linked to my mobile phone. Therefore if urgent advice is required I can be contacted out of office hours. If I am not available due to being on my bike or other reasons, as soon as I pick up the message, a return call will be made. May I recommend that you put this number in your phone under say “Accident – John”. This should be an Immediate First Call as I can deal with all aspects of the accident on your behalf. Even if you are presently being represented by a solicitor you are not happy with, I may be able to take over your case.
- I am happy to give advice regarding matters concerning personal injury or consequential losses arising out of a road traffic accident irrespective of whether another solicitor is acting on the file and the member does not feel that their claim is being actively pursued.
- Although Barratts are specialists in personal injury and clinical negligence, we have links with a firm who specialises in criminal and road traffic offences. I am happy to forward the members details onto them.
- I regularly attend clubs and other organisations giving talks which cover not only accident avoidance but should an accident occur, what procedures should be undertaken to protect the interests of the individual. I am happy to extend this facility to the regional clubs.
I sincerely hope that the only time you see me is on a ride out or rally but if the unexpected does occur, the choice is yours, whether to be put into the “sausage machine” process or choose to instruct a nationally recognised biker accident specialist. May I wish you blue skies, good roads and safe riding. I hope to see you soon.
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From the Nurburgring to Silverstone on a Hayabusa - June 2010
I bought the Hayabusa last September. It had been a long winter but the bike had been properly run in ready for the summer. I had heard many people rant on about the phenomenal power delivery of Suzuki’s Exorcet rocket ship and the hype was all true. What a machine!! I previously had the GSXR1000 Phantom and decided to get something a little more comfortable and sedate. The first bit was right but a Hayabusa is definitely not sedate. A trip had been planned by the Nottingham Advanced Motorcyclists to the Nurburgring. I had booked Level 4 of the California Superbike School at Silverstone South circuit in June and thought the Nurburgring would be a good dress rehearsal for the both of us.
There were 14 bikes altogether and we decided to split into groups of 3 and 4. Now I know this sounds a little unsociable not to ride in one group but it actually worked extremely well. We had some miles to crunch and in small groups, we didn’t need to worry about the drop off system, or the tail end bikes riding likes banshees just to keep up. We could travel at a sensible speed and make excellent progress, meeting the other groups at pre-determined points along the way. Isn’t the Chunnel so easy, no strapping down the bikes and half an hour later, we were in France. Someone did say to look for the fish out of the windows when we were under the Channel and someone actually did!
The weather was nice and dry, so the trip through Belgium into Germany was quite pleasant albeit a little boring. We arrived at the hotel which was set in glorious ski resort country and the scenery was breathtaking. A few went over to the ring but it was closed as unfortunately a biker had been killed and the track closed early for the evening. As Gladiators preparing for the arena, we did not consume any alcoholic beverages and went to bed early….do you actually believe that?
The next day we were greeted with glorious sunshine. There were some solemn faces at breakfast as though they were consuming their last meal before the onslaught. We had heard some frightening stories about cars taking out bikes and how dangerous the circuit was. Even to the point that when you see spectators, be careful as they only gather at accident blackspots! We rode to the ring and purchased our lap cards. It was a German Bank Holiday and the place was packed. There was an air of expectation end excitement. We had to wait a short while as the track had been temporarily closed to clear a car that had caused carnage. I have to admit that my heart was in my mouth as I swiped the card and the barrier lifted. The first lap was a sighting lap. You have to keep your eye on the mirrors and stay to the right of the track when you see a car coming. A quick flash of the indicator lets the car know you have seen them and will not do something stupid in front of them. There is some serious kit out there, Ferrari’s, Porsche, AMG’s, BMW’s, even a Bugatti. These cars can carry phenomenal corner speeds. The second circuit was a little quicker. After the last corner, there is a long straight. I was passed by a Porsche and an M3 jockeying for position. As we got onto the straight, I let the Hayabusa do its thing and went through the middle of the two cars at 170mph with the biggest grin, I have ever had. That night, we recanted our stories and I guess there was some slight exaggeration by all.
The ride back saw us get an almighty telling off for filtering from a German policewoman who was knee high to a grasshopper. You don’t mess with a woman with a gun and we were all shaking in our boots. We also took it easy through France as they are getting pretty hot on speeding. We all arrived home safely having ticked one of those life’s boxes that just has to be done. Would I do it again….you bet.
The following week saw me at Silverstone South Circuit with the California Superbike School doing level 4. For those who don’t know what this is, I have written an article on my website www.bgtbikersolicitors.co.uk following an interview with the school’s director, Andy Ibbott. Basically, it is a school where the students can learn the “art of cornering” in relatively safe surroundings. I like it as it is not a track day where everyone goes ballistic but a learning environment where the safety of the students is taken very seriously by the school. I previously had fitted a Power Commander which was set up not to increase the bhp but to bring in the power much more smoothly. I also had the suspension adjusted by Mark Harrison-Ross who is a Guru when it comes to the dark art of pre-load, rebound, static sag etc. It really did transform the bike and made it much more stable, throwing it into corners and when putting the power down.
Unfortunately, the weather was horrible. It rained on the way there but luckily, it dried out for the remaining sessions except for the last. The rain was torrential and there were rivers of water flowing across the circuit. I put the power mode into “C” and took it easy. Many people decided to call it a day and didn’t go out. I guess that I must be a little masochistic as I actually enjoyed taking it easy in the last session of the day and trying to ride through the appalling conditions. The bike behaved impeccably and didn’t put a foot wrong.
The two events were totally different but very enjoyable in their own ways. It allowed me to explore not only the touring capabilities of the Hayabusa but what it is actually capable of and even then, I am sure that it has much more hidden depths than I had found.
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An interview with Andy Ibbott - May 2010
John Measures was able to sit down with Andy Ibbott to talk about the California Superbike School (CSS) which has received a great deal of interest with both the motorcycle media and individual bikers.
JM – What is your involvement with the California Superbikes School; how did it all begin and what area do you now cover?
AI – It all started in 1995 when I was test rider with Fast Bikes. I was also racing Super Sport 600s. Fast Bikes sent me to America to get the facts about Keith Code, the founder of the CSS, and his innovative riding techniques. I booked on Level 1 and immediately afterwards, I found a marked difference in not only my road riding but I was then beginning to finish in my racing midfield to top 3. In 1996, I invited Keith Code the founder of the California Superbike School to come over to the UK to try out his school over here. However, no one had heard of Keith Code and although what he taught was technologically sound, the school was a flop. It was only in 1997 after marking and building on the success that the word got out amongst the biking community. I completed all four levels and was invited by Keith back to the USA the following year to become a coach. In 1999, I became the School Director in the UK and now my area covers from the top of Norway to the bottom of Africa; from the west coast of Ireland to the east coast of India. The CSS has become a resounding success and has taught thousands of bikers the art of cornering.
JM – How do you become a CSS coach?
AI – Every student irrespective of their ability starts at level 1 and progresses through levels 2, 3 and 4 at their own pace. Every coach at the CSS was at one time a student at the school. There is an ongoing training process and the coaches themselves go through four levels, provisional, qualified, certified and professional. We are now working on a fifth level which will be a Master Class. The coaches not only have to display a high level of competence in their riding but also a comprehensive knowledge of the skills taught at all levels of the CSS. They have to demonstrate a sound understanding of the skills set and be able to communicate effectively with the students.
JM – What is the ethos of the CSS?
AI – The ethos of the school is to ensure that every motorcyclist out there does a better job of cornering. The bottom line is corners are where all the fun is, the challenges are and where most mistakes happen.
JM – Is it only sports bikes that can do the CSS?
AI – Not at all, we have had every bike you can think of including scooters Gold Wings, T-Max and Silver Wings. They range from 125cc to 1000cc and above. We have even had vintage motorcycles. I guess the only motorcycle we have not seen is a Moto-X bike.
JM – One of the main concerns is that if you are using your own bike, you end up crashing it.
AI – Safety is paramount to us. We do not allow close passes. Although we use a race track, we make it perfectly clear that it is not a track day but a cornering school. The race track allows a safe environment with a high repetition of corners. It is an ideal learning environment. The riders do not have to worry about oncoming cars, kerbs, trees or junctions. All they have to think about is what we teach them. We find that the majority of our students want to learn and not those with all the gear and no idea.
JM – What are the four levels?
AI – A lot of thought has been put into designing the course which is like a jigsaw where all the pieces fit together. Everyone starts at level 1 whether they are James Toseland or a long established police motorcyclist. It is not a reflection of their ability but an introduction of the structure of the CSS. We know it works and there are no short cuts. It starts with classroom theory looking at not only the good points but the bad points riders have to be aware. The riders then go on track to put the theory into practice carefully watched by instructors. There are also off track drills which complete the day. We ensure that there is sufficient track time for each level to ensure a good understanding of what is being taught. Every student is under the wing of an instructor who throughout the day will guide and advise them.
JM – Isn’t it a free for all on the track?
AI – Not at all, we do not allow close passing and anyone that contravenes this will be dealt with. Students are told at the very beginning that it is not a track day and that they will be asked to leave if they ride without courtesy to other students. Not only do we have Marshalls around the circuit but there are instructors constantly riding around the circuit not only helping students but to ensure that safety protocols are adhered to. Riders will go at their own pace and we advise them not to go beyond 85% of their ability. At this percentage, we find that riders are within their comfort zone and are able to learn the techniques that are being taught. No one is timed and the students will ride at their own pace.
JM – But it is rather expensive isn’t it?
AI – I agree that it is expensive but compared to what, a new crash helmet? New body work? Yes if you compare it with a normal track day it is expensive but you are not taught anything on a track day. The number of students who have said that they wish they had spent the money earlier as this would have saved of offs. I consider this training is far better and more useful than most bling that you find on motorcycles these days.
JM – What has 2010 in store for Andy Ibbott?
AI – There are not enough days to fit in with what we need to do. We are now in 21 countries and although this is excellent as it shows that what we teach is now internationally recognised. However each country has its own little problems although the enthusiasm is same wherever you go. It doesn’t matter what culture you belong to as motorcyclists are the last greatest tribe on earth.
If you want to know more, you can either visit the CSS website at www.superbikeschool.co.uk or call them on 08700 671061. For me, I have booked to do level 4 again on the 9th June at Silverstone. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
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Leading a Group Ride - January 2010
There has been a great number of Lemmings throwing themselves of the edge of a cliff following the motoring conviction of Ken Clark. Is this the end of group riding as we know it and will only the foolhardy volunteer to lead a group ride in the future? Absolutely not, so read on.
As a specialist Personal Injury lawyer, I have canvassed the advice of Jon Hullis, a motoring offence solicitor and Len Tempest a barrister of long standing. They have given some very useful information and I am very grateful for their input.
“We have not been able to obtain a true transcript of the Magistrates or Crown Court decisions in the Clark case and therefore details of the offence have been taken from other sources, the accuracy of which we cannot guarantee. To summarise, Mr Clark was leading a group of three riders on a road which was subject to a 60mph speed limit. Mr Clark reached a recorded 85 mph whilst the following bikes were accused of riding at 103mph. It is suggested in Mr Clarks’ Barrister’s notes that although he was travelling at a lesser speed, it was an aggravating factor that he was the lead motorcyclist and was therefore setting the pace. He knew that the other two motorcyclists would want to catch him up and would speed to do so. He was awarded six penalty points, a £100 fine and £250 in court costs.
Decisions in the Crown Court are not binding on any other court although on a future case, a Magistrate can take that decision into account. In deciding the appropriate sentence for any offence, the court will take into account all relevant circumstances
- The sentencing decision-making process is as follows:
- Offence seriousness: Identify the appropriate starting point. For a speeding offence this will be based on the recorded speed compared to the speed limit. Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines identify “starting points” for the range of speeds
- The sentence is adjusted up or down after taking into account the effect of aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the offence
- A preliminary view of the sentence is formed and then consideration is given to the offender’s personal mitigation
- Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines state that for recorded speeds of 81-90 mph in a 60 mph limit, a fine of Band B should be imposed and 4-6 penalty points or a ban of 7-28 days [Band B fine equates to 100% of weekly income]
This case is likely to have no practical effect on any future cases. The way it has been reported in the media greatly exaggerates its importance. Mr Clark’s sentence was within the Magistrates Guidelines. His speed was on the very limit of the police discretion as to issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice.
What this case means
- In taking into account all relevant circumstances, the court is likely to find that where a lead rider who is setting the pace of a ride has exceeded the speed limit and this has contributed to the likelihood that following riders will also speed, then this will be a feature that aggravates the lead rider’s speeding offence compared to a straightforward situation where he was riding alone without his speed affecting anyone else
- The lead rider is only prosecuted for his speeding offence (but taking into account the consequences this may have on others). He is not being prosecuted for the actions of others
What this case does not mean
- It is not a “ruling” or a “precedent” or a change in the law – it is a decision based on the facts of this case. However, due to the media interest it has created, prosecutors dealing with similar cases in the future are possibly more likely to highlight this aggravating feature (although it is possible that they always would have referred to this as part of the facts of the case)
- It does not mean that in every future case where the lead rider is speeding that he will be sentenced as if he was travelling at the same speed as anyone following him. The extent to which the court decides this aggravates the offence is a matter for the court based on all the circumstances of the offence
- If the lead rider keeps to the speed limit, it seems probable that the lead rider will not be prosecuted for the actions of those following
- If the lead rider was only marginally exceeding the speed limit (e.g. +10mph) it would be difficult for a prosecutor to argue that this would have any effect of those following, and therefore should be dealt with as a straightforward speeding offence
Points to be aware of
- Although it is not what happened in this case, it is possible for a rider to be prosecuted for aiding and abetting an offence committed by someone else. This can occur where there is evidence of vehicles racing (even without any actual agreement to do so). If one rider commits an offence, e.g. dangerous driving, another rider can be convicted of that offence if there is evidence that his actions encouraged the first rider or in some way contributed to the dangerous driving
- This does not require there to have been any agreement to race or ride together at speed. It can occur by an impromptu meeting of two or more bikes. If there is evidence that the bikes were encouraging each other to ride dangerously or at significantly high speeds, then each rider may be held responsible for the actions of the other
- An example of this is a case is where drivers of two cars who were unknown to each other embarked on a fairly short-lived drive together at high speeds. There was evidence from witnesses of “competitive driving” which undoubtedly amounted to dangerous driving by both drivers. As the lead driver came over the brow of a hill at speed, he hit a pedestrian crossing the road and killed him. Just before this, the second driver had decided that he’d had enough and pulled back. Both drivers were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, on the basis that each of their actions had encouraged the other to drive dangerously”.
In summary, my colleagues suggest:
If the lead rider in a group is riding at or below the speed limit, it is unlikely that he will be prosecuted for speeding - even if some of the following bikes are speeding.
It would be very hard for the prosecution to prove that the lead rider had aided and abetted anyone else to commit a speeding offence where the lead rider himself was not speeding. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where he would be prosecuted. It is unlikely that he will be liable or responsible for others speeding when he is setting a lawful pace.
Even if following riders may temporarily exceed the speed limit during a ride, this may not caused by a lead rider who keeps within the speed limits - their average speeds over the ride must be the same. This is particularly relevant in the one-man drop off system and stopping on occasions to allow re-grouping that most clubs adopt on ride outs. These are perfectly adequate to show that the lead rider is not compelling others to speed.
There we have it for the motoring side of things but where would you stand in a Civil Law suit. In so far as Civil Law, there is and has been for some time a responsibility of the lead rider for the safety of those in the group. In the case of Sharp v Avery (1938), two motorcyclists were travelling from London to Southend. One knew the way and agreed to lead. The lead biker mistook the road and rode onto some waste ground. He braked and skidded forward. The second bike followed the first onto the waste ground and collided with the lead bike. It was held that the lead bike was negligent in that there was a duty on him not to mislead the following biker.
So how does all of this affect Ride-Outs?
As always in law, not everything is black and white but I believe there are some simple steps that can be taken by the lead rider. The following is not intended as a catch-all check list but a guideline. Each and every ride-out should be considered individually and appropriate steps taken:
- Carefully check the route to ensure:
- It is safe in all weather conditions for motorcycles, considering the skill levels of all riders.
- Ride the route beforehand, if at all possible. This will iron out any problems and to confirm distance and timings.
- Check the distance and timings, allowing for breaks, refreshments and re-grouping. You don’t want to have to travel at silly speeds to catch the ferry because you have made a miscalculation.
- Adopt the one-man drop off system (also known as the buddy system). This is where there is a “Lead Rider” and “Tail-End” bike. The bike behind the lead rider stops at junctions (in a safe position and not contravening road traffic regulations/road markings etc). The lead rider usually directs the following bike that he needs to drop off and mark the junction. It should be the following bikes responsibility to stop in a safe position. If the group gets split up, no-one will have to ride at excessive speeds in the fear of getting lost as there will be a bike at appropriate junctions. When the tail-end bike comes into view, the bike marking the junction simply re-joins the group in front of the tail-end bike. This can take a little practice so have newbie’s at the back of the group so that they can get a feel of what happens before it is their turn. There are other systems that work equally as well depending on group numbers. For example, if there are only a handful of bikes, all bikes keep the following bike in view and this keeps the group together. The important thing is safety of the group and individual rider. Overtaking within the group (with exceptions and done safely) is usually not permitted otherwise it becomes a free for all.
- Briefing – this is important. It allows the lead rider to:
- Clearly advise which system is being adopted for the ride.
- Identify the lead and tail end riders/bikes (there usually wear something distinctive).
- Enforce the safety rules and confirm that junctions will be properly marked so there is no need to speed, ride recklessly or contravene road traffic regulations.
- Confirm the route, stops and any other relevant information about the ride-out.
- Provide a route plan, so if someone does get lost, they know where the group is heading. On the plan. Give the lead and tail end riders’ mobile telephone numbers. Confirm the rules of the ride-out so there is no dispute what you said in the briefing.
- The Lead Rider should ride within the speed limit and in a responsible manner with all due regard to the safety of the group.
Group riding is great fun and is what most bikers enjoy most about the thrill of motorcycling. It is important to the social side of what we do, What appears in this article is what most of us do anyway so in some way it is trying to teach Grandmother to suck eggs. It is a matter of using common sense, so get out there and enjoy life!!!!!!!
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HONDA VFR1200F Test Ride - November 2009
You can imagine my surprise when Fiona Cole, the PR Communications Manager for Honda (UK) telephoned me to ask if I would like to go on the launch of the long awaited and much hyped VFR1200F...in Spain!!! The last time I did a test ride was off road on a cold wet day in Doncaster. Within a few days, along with ten of the UK’s best riders from the top motorcycle magazines, we arrived at Malaga airport on a lovely sunny afternoon and were then transferred to the beautiful hotel in Loja, a short distance away. We were also accompanied by the lucky competition winner, Hristo.
That evening we were given a presentation by Yosuke Hasegowa (the overall project leader), and Teofilo Plaza (the design project leader). We also saw for the first time, the VFR “in the flesh” together with some of the accessories including the touring panniers. The euphoria was short lived when we were advised that the weather forecast for the following day was rain. I guess that the weather is one thing Honda has no control over. I had looked at the forecast before leaving the UK and took my waterproofs, just in case. Why is it that you don’t feel any better when you are told that the weather has been brilliant up until that time? We were then told that the roads were slippery even when dry due to the surface dressing being worn but would be treacherous when wet. We were asked to ride carefully as they only had limited spares and several days to go.
Just to make us Brits feel at home and as promised, the next day was miserable and wet. Our steeds were waiting, all highly polished and ready to go. We set off in formation on roads that would be challenging even for Torville and Dean. At one point I was following Benjamin of Fast Bikes who had an almighty fishtail. I spoke to him later and he said that he was in sixth gear on a constant throttle yet the back end broke away, nothing to do with the bike but such were the road conditions.
So why am I going on about the appalling weather, is it just to have a moan? Well yes partly but also to say that in those conditions, I really could not get the most out of the bike. Like a thoroughbred race horse, the VFR wanted to show conditions simply did not allow me to explore the full potential of the bike. Not being too daunted and other than a couple of twitches from both the front and the back, I found the bike to be surprisingly stable. I was able to use the torque without any major dramas even when the speed increased. Throughout the day, both the VFR and I placed our trust in each other to get us home safely.
At the first stop, a sea of red Honda shirts appeared from nowhere and washed the bikes. Now I can really get used to that. At the second stop, they realised that they were on a hiding to nothing and left the bikes in a mucky state. Who can blame them!
The roads after lunch were absolutely stunning. I understand the route is regularly used for bike launches and can see why. It is a mountain road that twists and turns. On the left is a sheer drop and on the right is the rock face. So there was no room for mistakes, or indeed loss of grip....and throughout the bike behaved impeccably. Chris Moss was telling me the night before, that on one launch, he smashed into the rock face resulting in a short stay at the local hospital. These thoughts soon disappeared as I was really enjoying the ride.
More importantly what was the all new bike really like:-
Styling – I am aware that there has been some criticism but you really need to see it as photos do not do it justice. The front has been designed in a layer style for stability, to maximise air flow to the engine and to keep the riders legs cool on the move. The tank blends into the fairing in a seamless line. Goodness knows how it is removed as I could not see any fixings. It looks futuristic and has a distinctive “X” looks from the front. I was sceptical at first but it is growing on me. I particularly like the hi-vis lights inbuilt into the wing mirrors which also house the indicators. The back end looks more like a sports bike than a tourer, so forget about any under seat storage. I am also surprised that it doesn’t come with a hugger as standard. After a short distance, the back of my legs were filthy, so a pillion legs would be even worse. A front fender would also not go amiss. You have three colours to choose from; Candy Prominence Red; Seal Silver Metallic; and Pearl Sunbeam White. Honda is also launching a VFR clothing range.
Engine – it is definitely a VFR that has been on steroids. The configuration of the engine layout and narrower cylinder heads allows for a slim waist. This brings down the seat height and although it is 815mm, it seems much less. I understand that there is even a slimmer seat to give a little more leg length whilst maintaining the ergonomics of the rider and bike. The standard seat allows my 5’6” height to adequately reach the floor. The engine note is unmistakably a VFR. When going through a tunnel, the group sounded like a squadron of Lancaster bombers, so much so that I had to drop it down a gear to get even more of a thrill. No need to think about an aftermarket can as the standard one does just fine. In traffic at about 2000 revs in 2nd gear, it seemed to bottom out a little and 1st gear was too jittery, so I had to slip the clutch to keep things smooth. The engine is responsive but spin it above 4k and it comes alive all the way to the limiter. It is an engine that is not frightened of being revved. It has plenty of torque and the engine braking was a godsend in the slippery conditions. Torque is 129Nm/8750 whereas the current VFR800 is 80Nm/8750.The Pan is 125Nm/6000. There is no V-Tec as on the 800 model so now you have smooth delivery all the way to the stop. The power is delivered by a throttle by wire system giving precise control.
Chassis – Excellent and gives good feedback. Even when things got out of shape, there were no heart stopping moments and the bike simply came back into line as though nothing had happened. Wheelbase is 1545mm; the VFR800 is 1460mm and the Pan is 1490mm, yet the bike deceptively looks smaller. The front suspension has adjustable preload and the rear swingarm has a pro-link rear shock with adjustable rebound damping. I would have liked to have seen an electrically adjustable system operated from a switch on the handlebars, so it could be fine tuned when on the move.
Pro-Arm Shaft Drive – The sports shaft works very much like a chain drive. It is direct and does not have any lag. It is a new system and works very well...and of course, easy to maintain.
Brakes – Combined linked braking with new six piston callipers at the front and two at the back. I didn’t use the front brake except in a straight line and even then, very cautiously. The front brake seemed to have good feel but on that day, discretion was the better part of valour and most was done with the rear brake and engine. The slipper clutch worked well and didn’t cause any loss of traction to the rear wheel when changing down.
Handling - Steering was precise although not as fast as a full on sports bike but not as slow as my Blackbird. I thought it carried its weight quite well. Kerb weight is 267kg whereas the current VFR800 is 244kg and the Pan is 324kg. Considering the torque comparisons, this isn’t bad at all. Reach to the bars was fine unlike the Blackbird where many owners have fitted bar risers. The seat is relatively comfortable and wind protection is adequate at normal speeds but can get a bit blustery when on the move. Honda offers a three position wind deflector to combat this as an accessory, rather than a taller screen. I will mention as well that Honda has developed a Cat1 Thatcham approved alarm that can also be purchased at an extra cost.
Instrument panel and switch gear – All as it should be. It has a digital speedometer, an ambient temperature read-out and a very useful gear indicator. The directional indicator switch is below the horn rather than the other way round. I quite liked this as the thumb naturally falls onto it. You can also have heated grips at an additional cost. It apparently heats the fingers more than the palm and has a slimmer grip handle. There is a fuel bar indicator but as usual, it reads full for most of the time and then drops quickly. With only an 18.5L tank capacity, keep an eye on the trip counter!
Sports-Tourer – The current VFR800 has a tank capacity of 22L; the Pan has 29L and my Blackbird has 24L. Why has Honda put such a small tank range on a bike that is supposed to be a tourer? The fuel consumption realistically is about 38/39mpg which I would surmise with a pillion and full luggage will give a range of about 150miles...not enough for a tourer, in my opinion. Indeed, one rider who took a slight detour ran out of fuel and had to be rescued. This brings me onto the luggage. The designers have concentrated on maintaining aerodynamics and stability. Even the back rack has a design called a “Yodo”. The plate moves horizontally by a few millimetres, so when the bike corners, the plate moves and then follows the pitch of the bike thus spreading the weight when cornering. The panniers are easy to fit using integral locating points on the bike, so when removed, there is no racking which can detract from the sports looks of the bike. The VFR panniers and top-box gives a combined luggage capacity of 89L (panniers 29L, top-box 31L) whereas my Blackbird has 124L; a difference of 35L which can make all the difference when touring, not to mention carrying a tent and other camping equipment. The VFR will have the option of a tank-bag but there are security issues when leaving the bike for a coffee break. When travelling abroad and going out from the hotel for the day, it is nice to be able to stow the riding gear in the panniers and walk around in comfort. The VFR is capable of long distance travel although with the top-box, the rider and pillion are relatively close together. My wife likes a little more room on the seat and even with a 52L top-box, she has this space. As a sports bike, it is capable of keeping up with most bikes in the same category but it is not a full on sports bike. Can it hack it on the track? I am not sure. Having said that, it is a consummate road bike with good roll-on power giving effortless rideability.
In summary, as with all Sports-Tourers, there is some trade-off and compromise. The VFR1200F is a well built bike that will become a classic of its day. It will, without doubt, have all current VFR owners reaching for their cheque books and is an admirable addition to the VFR range. The current VFR800 V-Tec is to remain in production. I do have two major concerns and that is the tank range and luggage capacity, particularly with two-up. I therefore wonder where this leaves the Blackbird owner who doesn’t want to go to a pan. I think it is worth a test ride and you can make your own minds up. It certainly has that grin factor and like a stick of rock, has Honda written all the way through. It is well engineered and the sound that comes from the exhaust is so addictive. Honda has just announced that the VFR1200F will be available at their dealers from Valentine’s weekend in February 2010, with a three year warranty at a price of £11,596. The first V4 road going bike was launched in 1982 as the VFR750. To put it simply, as the 6th generation VFR and nearly 30 years on, it carries on the excellent tradition of the VFR lineage and will continue to enthral Honda owners for many years to come.
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Barratts again receive top honours - October 2009
Barratts are named again as one of the UK's leading regional law firms specialising in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence:
The Legal 500 and Chambers Directory canvass solicitors, barristers and clients to compile a list of recommended firms. Barratts are again considered to be top of the tier for personal injury and clinical negligence.
"Niche firm Barratt Goff & Tomlinson is recognised by grateful clients as being ‘second to none’, and has been placed in the highest tier by the Legal Services Commission for success rates in clinical negligence work ."www.legal500.com
This “incredibly diligent and very knowledgeable” niche outfit rises to the top tier this year, and is widely credited by market sources as a regional player of the highest calibre. Its main focus is on single claims for individuals with complex catastrophic injuries, and the group receives referrals from a number of local spinal, brain and disability services. The combined clinical negligence and personal injury team specialises in severe spinal and brain injuries, as well as industrial disease claims, and has recorded several multimillion-pound settlements for personal injury claimants over the past year. Competitors concede that the firm is “a tough opponent to act against.”
Barratts wins recognition for its “client-friendliness and excellent teamwork” on cases. The firm is particularly recommended for its complex work on diabetes and spinal cord injuries. The majority of its new cases result from recommendation, both from former clients and other solicitors. Peers say: “If a member of my family were injured and there was a conflict, I’d definitely go to them.” Lawyers are “absolutely on top of the detail of their cases and always exercise good judgement.”www.chambersandpartners.com
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“Sorry mate I didn’t see you – but it was your fault anyway” - August 2009
I might be getting cynical in my old age but having dealt with motorcycle claims for over 25 years, I despair when bikers are blamed for accidents when it was not their fault. It seems inbuilt in the psyche of our society that when an accident occurs involving a motorcycle, it must have been the fault of the motorcyclist.
Only recently, I was listening to the local news which reported that a fourth motorcyclist had been killed on the County roads and that the Police were targeting motorcyclists as part of their safety campaign. The reporter went on to say that car drivers were warned to give motorcyclists a wide berth. Perhaps the reporter should have said that car drivers ought to be more aware of motorcyclists before carrying out a manoeuvre.
The reality is that rider death rate continues to fall despite a huge increase in powered two wheeled usage. 100 fewer bikers were killed on the roads in 2008 than in the previous year, a 16% decrease. There were 498 bikers killed which was the lowest number since 1996 when 440 died. The Government base line target was 467. However, over the same period, PTW usage increased by 44%. Bikers seriously injured were also down on 2007 figures. What these figures don’t show is how many of those bikers were killed or seriously injured due to the negligent driving of the other party.
In a recent conversation, I was advised that one insurance company automatically seeks a 35% reduction for contributory negligence if the person bringing the claim is riding a motorcycle.
So how does the biker who is involved in a no fault accident levels the playing field and gives themselves a good chance of securing 100% of their compensation. I would suggest the following :-
- Obtain the registration number of the other vehicle.
- Name address and insurance details of the other driver.
- Witnesses – I know that I keep going on about the importance of witnesses especially those who are independent. If at all possible, ensure that you get the names, telephone numbers and addresses of witnesses. If you cannot do this due to your injuries then ask a bystander to do it for you. Although the Police will take witness details it is possible that by the time the Police arrive, the witnesses are long gone. Additionally, the Police will not release witness details whilst their enquiries are ongoing and this may delay persuading the third party insurers admit liability.
- Photographs – at one time, we were recommended to carry disposable cameras. However with the advent of camera mobile phones, disposable cameras are a thing of the past. Try to get as many photographs as you can prior to the vehicles being moved. Although helpful members of the public will try and move the vehicles, ask them not to do so until the photographs have been taken. If this delays other motorists for a few minutes, so be it. Again if you are unable to take the photographs yourself as a bystander but ensure that you get their contact details for the photographs to be sent to you when requested.
- If the third party is filled with remorse and is apologising profusely admitting liability, then get them to confirm this in writing with their signature and date. If they admit that the accident was their fault in front of the Police Officer, ask the Officer to write the statement in their pocket book. I appreciate that insurance companies advise their insured not to admit liability at the scene, but this may prevent the driver from changing their story later.
- As soon as practically possible prepare a sketch plan and a statement. Sign and date both of them.
- Do not be afraid to call the Police. If there are no injuries, the Police may not attend, however, it is always best to seek Police and medical assistance if you are injured.
- Clothing – a biker is 300 times more likely to be seen if wearing high visibility clothing. I would also suggest that if the biker was wearing full protective clothing then this would evidence that they are responsible riders. Whilst I appreciate that the only legal requirement is a helmet, most of you would have read my article on protective clothing and the courts recent comments.
- Advanced training – if you can show that you have taken advanced training beyond the test standard. Whether it is a Police Bike Safe, IAM or other, not only do I believe that it enhances the skill of the rider, improves observations and lessens the chance of an accident, but also shows a responsible attitude.
- Call 0800 021 3065 and speak to me as soon as possible. This number is linked to my mobile telephone and advice is available during evenings and at weekends.
So often, the third party will apologise at the scene saying that they accept full responsibility for the accident. The biker takes this on face value and the witnesses disappear. Don’t be surprised when you later call the third party, they have changed their mind and allege that you were speeding, riding recklessly or some other excuse to avoid liability. If they do so, all the best evidence that was available at the scene of the accident has now gone leaving your word against the other driver.
The moral of this article is never take things on face value. Always assume that the other driver will deny liability either at the scene or when reporting the matter to their insurers. This does not mean that you should be aggressive or confrontational but neither does it mean that you should fail to carry out what are very simply steps to give you the best chance of securing a full admission of liability and moreover making your solicitors life much easier.
John’s business card has some useful information on what to do in the event of an accident. It is wallet credit card sized, so you can have it to hand should you require. Please contact John on 0800 021 3065/0115 931 5171 if you would like one sending to you.
Diesel spills and protective clothing - March 2009
The daffodils are blooming and the covers are coming off the bikes. For those who do not brave the joys of riding through the winter, there is no better cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) than taking the bike off SWORN, seeing if the leathers still fit and taking the old girl (the bike) for a spin. Just remember that as you have not ridden for a few months, you need to get back in the groove and take it easy for a while.
So what is waiting for you out there? Things haven’t changed much from last year. Cars still pull out in front of you with boring regularity with the lame the time old excuse of “sorry but I didn’t see you”. Lying in wait with less respect for your wellbeing is the Diesel Spill. Now many bikers say that you should be well aware of the presence of Diesel by the smell, rainbow colours on the road and such like. This is true but there are occasions when the first opportunity to identify the spill, is when you are sliding down the road with your pride and joy.
All is not lost even if the vehicle that spilt the Diesel is long gone. If you are unable to prove a claim against the Highway Authority for failing to maintain the road in accordance with their responsibility under the Highways Act 1980, there is an organisation called The Motor Insurers Bureau. They were set up in 1946 to compensate victims involved in road traffic accidents caused by the negligence of either uninsured or untraced motorists. There are a number of factors the MIB will consider when deciding if they will accept your claim:-
- Where the Diesel spillage occurred
- The size of the Diesel spillage
- Was it caused by the negligence of one vehicle rather than accumulating over a period of time, and
- Was the accident reported to the Police immediately and did you co-operate fully with the Police and other authorities
There are limitations to what you can claim and the scheme imposes a £300 excess. There are strict reporting procedures to be followed for the claim to be successful.
As always, every case is determined on its own particular merits, therefore legal advice should be taken. If the size of the spillage is such that it created a reasonable foreseeable risk of injury, call the Police straight away. You can appreciate how it will reflect on the potential success of your case if the Police decide that it causes such a danger to other road users that they call out the Highways Authority to clean it up. Take photos and get witness details.
To open a topic of thought, on 22nd January 2009, Mr Justice Griffith Williams was asked to consider whether or not there should be a finding of contributory negligence for a cyclist failing to wear a cycle helmet. The facts of the accident are not important save to say that a cyclist suffered quite severe head injuries as a result of a collision with another vehicle. It was accepted that the accident was wholly the fault of the other party (who just happened to be a motorcyclist). The defendants (Lawyers for the motorcyclist) argued that as the cyclist was not wearing a cycle helmet, there should be a finding of contributory negligence. That is, the compensation award should be reduced by a percentage to reflect fault on the part of the cyclist for not wearing a cycle helmet.
The defendants (Lawyers for the cyclist) referred to the guidance in the Highway Code saying that “you should wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations”, linking this argument to the long established case of Froom v Butcher where the claimant’s damages were reduced for failing to wear a seat belt.
The Claimant argued that the decision in Froom should not be applied to cycle helmets as there was an intention of Parliament to introduce the compulsory wearing of seat belts but there was no intention with regard to cycle helmets.
The Judge said that the wearing of helmets may afford protection in some circumstances and that an ordinary prudent cyclist should wear one. He went onto say “it matters not that there is no legal compulsion for cyclists to wear helmets ...because there can be no doubt that the failure to wear a helmet may expose the cyclist to the greater risk of injury; such failure would not be a sensible thing to do and so, subject to the issue of causation, any injury sustained may be the cyclist’s own fault and he only has himself to thank for the consequences”. Causation is proving the injuries claimed were caused as a direct result of the accident.
However, in this case, the cyclist’s compensation award was not reduced as the defendants failed to prove that the wearing of a helmet would have prevented or reduced the severity of the injuries.
So what has that to do with motorcyclists? Can the dicta of this case be extended to motorcyclists who suffer greater injuries because they are not wearing the protective clothing? We have witnessed many bikers who ride around wearing trainers, track suit bottoms (or even shorts) and tee shirts. If they suffer more serious injuries because they were not wearing protective clothing, will this open the argument of contributory negligence? Possibly so, if the defendants can prove that the biker’s injuries could have been lessened or prevented if protective clothing was worn. Both the Highway Code and the DSA publication on the Essential Skills for Riding a Motorcycle, suggest that wearing protective clothing can avoid certain injuries. Most bikers are aware that protective clothing is recommended and what type of clothing and equipment they should wear. Protective clothing has become more affordable in recent years. In fact the first element of the CBT course is a presentation on protective clothing and equipment.
It will still be the responsibility for the defendants to prove that the injuries would have been prevented or reduced if protective clothing was worn to the standard adopted by a prudent motorcyclist and it is still to be seen how far the courts will expect the prudent motorcyclist to go to protect himself against possible injury.
The decision of Mr Justice Griffith Williams has been criticised and it is yet to be seen if this sets a precedent in future cases. But it does give food for thought.
Filtering and the Law - October 2008
One of the advantages of riding a motorcycle is that you can continue to make progress where other vehicles are unable to. When traffic is stationary or moving slowly in queues, motorcyclists can use their manoeuvrability and limited space requirements to continue on their journey relatively unimpeded. However with this benefit comes a high degree of responsibility. Is it illegal? The Highway Code; the Driving Standard Agency publication on Motorcycle Riding; and the Police Riders Handbook – Motorcycle Road Craft, all mention filtering and states that it requires great care and attention from the motorcyclist. Having spoken to several Police Officers, they advise that no offence is committed as long as the motorcyclist complies with all road traffic signs, road markings, road traffic regulations and filters with appropriate due care and attention with courtesy to other road users.
So what happens if you want to bring a civil claim for personal injury, loss and damage suffered in a collision whilst filtering? It may be worth noting that when a Judge is asked to make a decision who is to blame, they often refer to past cases particularly those which have been decided in a higher Court. These are what we lawyers call legal precedents.
The first major case decided by the Court of Appeal was Powell v Moody in 1966. Briefly the circumstances of this accident were that there were two lanes of stationary traffic. The motorcyclist filtered along the offside of the second line of traffic when he came into collision with a car emerging from a side road on the nearside intending to turn right through a gap in the traffic. The Court described filtering as queue jumping which was a hazardous manoeuvre which had to be carried out with a high degree of care required by the motorcyclist. The Court said that it was effectively the burden of the motorcyclist to ensure that it was safe to overtake. As you will appreciate, the concept of queuing goes deep into our national psyche and there is a subconscious objection to those that “jump the queue”. If an accident happens where someone is doing this, then the natural reaction has been to blame the person who is in breach of the natural order of queuing. In this case, the Court held that the motorcyclist was 80% to blame. The effect of this is that the motorcyclist’s claim was reduced by 80%. You can appreciate how such a finding would drastically reduce the amount of compensation a motorcyclist would receive if he suffered serious injuries.
In the case of Leeson v Bevis and Tolchard (1972) a bike was filtering passed a single line of queuing traffic at about 15 mph. A van pulled out of a garage on the left in front of a lorry. A collision occurred between the bike and the van. This again went to the Court of Appeal and the biker was found 50% at fault.
We then go to the case of Worsfold v Howe (1980). This was a two lane road. The nearside was for traffic going straight ahead and the second lane was for traffic turning right. The biker was riding in the second lane at a speed of 10-30 mph. A tanker had left a large gap in front of it to allow traffic to emerge from a railway yard on the left. A car emerges very slowly in front of the tanker across both lanes to turn right. A collision occurred. This also went to the Court of Appeal where the biker was found 50% at fault. The Court said that the biker was travelling too fast and that he had gone beyond his line of sight.
In the case of Pell v Moseley heard by the Court of Appeal in 2003, here we have a single lane carriage way in each direction subject to a 60 mph speed limit. The motorcyclist began to overtake a line of traffic when he came into collision with a car which intended to turn right into a field where a motor cross event was taking place. The Court of Appeal found the motorcyclist 50% to blame stating that the motorcyclist was negligent in that he failed to notice that the Defendants vehicle would have needed to slow down before turning right, a fact which should have been apparent despite her failure to indicate. Further the motorcyclist was aware of the motor cross event and should have considered the possibility that the Defendant may wish to turn into the field and as such should not have attempted to overtake as he did.
We then saw a chink of light in the case of Davis v Schrogin in 2006, heard by the Court of Appeal. An accident occurred on a long straight section of road with one lane in each direction. There was a long queue of stationary/slow moving vehicles. A motorcyclist travelling in the same direction was overtaking at approximately 40 mph. He was half to two thirds of the way across from the central white line, was displaying a dipped headlight and a right hand indicator. He had been in that position for approximately half a mile and was not weaving in and out of traffic. A car lost patience and decided to carry out a U turn when the motorcycle was no more than five car lengths back. A collision occurred. The Court found the car driver wholly at fault on the basis that the motorcyclist was there to be seen and that even if he had been travelling appreciatably more slowly than he was, it would have made no difference because he had been right on top of the point of the accident when the Defendant first did anything to alert the motorcyclist of his intended manoeuvre. This was a decision of sense having regard to the facts of the accident. However, my heart sank when I read an article in one major motorcycle papers suggesting that bikers could now filter in any circumstances and at any speed and recover 100% of their compensation.
That euphoria was short lived following the case of Farley v Buckley in 2007. A motorcyclist was passing a refuse wagon which was travelling in the same direction and was indicating an intention to turn left into a side road. The lorry was unable to complete its turn as the side road was narrow and there was a car waiting to emerge and turn right. The motorcyclist travelling at a speed of about 30 mph overtook the refuse wagon with its wheels virtually on the centre white line when the car drove out in one continuous movement at approximately 5-8 miles per hour. A collision occurred. The Court held the motorcyclist wholly at fault as it considered that the motorcyclist was travelling at a too high a speed which in the circumstances was reckless especially having regard to the nature of the manoeuvre that he had been carrying out, the lack of visibility to his left and the fact that the refuse wagon had been displaying its left indicator.
The final case that I wish to refer to is Higgins v Johnson 2008 which is a County Court decision. In this case, a car was approaching a rugby ground on the right and indicated to turn into it. The car had commenced its manoeuvre when it was struck by a motorcycle which was overtaking. The Court heard evidence that the car driver first indicated left, then right, then left and then finally right again. The motorcyclist held back but once he believed that the car driver appeared to have settled on a course of continuing straight ahead, he pulled out to overtake. The Court accepted independent witness evidence that the car did indicate left, right, left and right. The final indication happened when the motorcyclist had already begun to overtake. The Court held that the car driver failed to check her mirrors or look over her shoulder and had she done so, she would have seen the motorcyclist. However, the Court also found that the motorcyclist was aware that there was an indecisive, erratically indicating driver ahead of him yet he proceeded to overtake her on a yellow boxed junction. The Court found the motorcyclist 25% to blame on this basis.
The moral of this story is cases such as these are fact specific. That is, each case is determined on its own merits. The court will look at the manner in which each party was driving/riding, traffic and road conditions and all relevant issues. What can you do to avoid an accident in the first place or give you a good change of getting 100% of your compensation?
- Ride slowly and at a speed that you are able to stop if:-
- Vehicles emerge or turn at junctions (be extra vigilant if your visibility is compromised by high sided vehicles)
- Vehicles suddenly changing lanes or U-turning without warning
- Vehicles suddenly opening their doors (especially if filtering along traffic that has been stationary for some time)
- Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Also other filtering motorcycles!
- Be ready to brake or use your horn if you think you have not been seen
- Use dipped headlights and wear florescent/reflective clothing
- Watch for road studs, road paint, road defects and manhole covers which can throw the bike off line
- Avoid conflict with other road users and be courteous
- Comply with all road traffic signs, road markings and road traffic regulations