Motorcycle Blog

I was hit by a car that made a U-turn as I was attempting to pass it in a slow-moving queue of traffic. So far, so easy – but I’m being told that I am equally to blame for this crash.

Here is what happened: I’d overtaken, in stages, a longish queue of slow-moving traffic stacked up behind a skip truck. As I got towards the front a Fiat 500 tucked in hard to the left. I thought the driver was letting me through, then BAM! the Fiat moved violently to the right, just flicking its Indicator on and I was smacked hard by the door.

My bike went sprawling across the carriageway, and as my bike fell on my leg it rotated my leg hard. While I do not have any broken bones, I have torn a number of ligaments In my knee.

The Fiat driver told police that he was attempting a U-turn and he just didn’t see me. He says he checked his mirrors before moving. One witness has confirmed that an indication was given just as the Fiat started moving. I went with my insurance-appointed solicitors.

After three weeks I was sent to see a doctor who I think is a general practitioner. I got a medical report which looked like a tick-box form. I am now being pressed to settle for a few thousand pounds. I still haven’t returned to work as a carpet fitter, I am technically self-employed, even though I mostly work for one major retailer. I have had no income for nearly four months.

Everything feels wrong about the way that this case has been handled, and I really cannot see that I have done anything wrong. Should I be following this advice?

Answer

No. Do not take 50/50 and do not settle your claim on the basis of the medical report you have, which actually says: “If symptoms persist for more than six weeks an orthopaedic opinion should be obtained.”

If this case went to trial most judges would find you without blame. You were overtaking, which is lawful. The duty of a vehicle being overtaken, before It deviates from its path, is threefold:

  1. Check your manoeuvre is safe and no one will be “Incommoded or Inconvenienced by It”.
  2. Signal your movement.
  3. Before executing your manoeuvre, check again Immediately before moving.

The Fiat driver did none of these. He patently did not check his mirrors because you were there and you are not invisible. This is a common trial scenario for me, on virtually Identical facts. Insurers get cocky that “filtering motorcyclists always go down at least 50/50”. They don’t. I would sack your current “solicitor” and get a real one rather than some desk jockey paralegal who has never seen the inside of a court room.

You could have a bad day In court and do less well than 100 per cent, but 50/50 would be a bizarrely bad outcome. Judges are not stupid and apply the law – which they know quite well, unlike your unqualified paralegal who may or may not be stupid but certainly does not know the law.

Even more worrying is the attempt to settle your potentially career-ending injury on a GP’s examination, when that doctor has said you need an orthopaedic report. It Is now 17 weeks post-accident. You are just off crutches, and there Is a strong likelihood you will need ligament reconstruction. I am not optimistic you will ever return to your trade, or If you do whether you will be able to work at anything near full capacity.

I cannot give any explanation as to why you are receiving such bad advice. Your claim Is likely to be quite substantial, certainly more than the £25,000 cap the government has decided should be subject to fixed fees. This Is the type of case any decent personal injury solicitor would be able to prove has led to substantial loss.

Some solicitors are not quite as gung ho as I am about going to court. I could see a more cautious solicitor suggesting there’s a real risk of you going down for, say, 20 per cent for falling to anticipate the Fiat driver, but I’d say that was a possible rather than a probable risk. But 50/50 would be a finding so wrong I would be likely to appeal It. You need to change solicitors. Immediately.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine – www.ride.co.uk

February 2017

Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focussed on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.

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