Motorcycle accident liability – Mate’s fate?

I was riding in a 60mph zone with two mates, probably doing a bit over 60, when an old git pulls out of a side road. I hit the front of the car and have been left with damage to some foot ligaments, which makes walking pretty painful, although my doctors say it will get better slowly.

My mate hit the car’s driver’s door, and badly broke both his forearms. He’s still undergoing operations and may not be able to return to his old job. My other mate braked hard and left a skid, which the defendants have had forensically analysed ‘proving’ he was doing 79mph.

My mate has been pressured by his appointed solicitors to take a 50/50 offer as they say his speed is equally to blame for the accident as the guy who pulled out. He’s worried about his solicitors charging him if he gets another opinion. Should he take 50/50?

Name withheld (ongoing case)

This is never a 50/50 case. The analysis by the insurer’s accident investigator has given one speed, based on one skid mark, left by one wheel – the rear one. He has two braking systems. You cannot calculate speed based on the skid mark of one wheel when a bike has two wheels and two braking systems.

Even if your mate was travelling at 79mph, the guy who was involved in the collision may well have been travelling at a different speed. Even so, the cause of the accident was not the speed of the riders but the car driver failing to give way. The second rider can only have his damages reduced if his speed is proved by the car driver – and the Judge can take into account the evidence from the skid mark. But that evidence is unreliable and the defence would have to show that the speed made a material difference to avoidance or the level of injury.

There’s enough evidence for a Judge to draw an inference of excess speed partially causing the collision, so there’s a chance that damages could go down to as little as 10 per cent. The Judge does have a wide discretion to split liability and will pay attention to previous decided cases, but if he went as high as a 67/33 split I don’t think your mate would be able to appeal it.

I’m not optimistic your claims handler knows the law. I would think carefully about an 80/20 split, in your mate’s favour. Your mate should change solicitors instantly. The advice he is receiving is dangerously wrong in a high value case. And, as seems to be the case in every one of these horror stories, the ‘claims advisor’ is no more qualified a lawyer than your electrician mate. Your mate needs a proper lawyer to deal with his valuable case.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes Magazine – May 2010

Andrew Dalton has been writing articles for Fast Bikes Magazine for a considerable period and have condensed what we believe are the most useful articles to you. White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors deal with personal injury claims and our sister company, Motor Defence Solicitors, deal with any road traffic offences.

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Posted on: May 10, 2010 at 12:00 am

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 focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.