I was riding my GSX-R1000 along a B-road that I know well. I ride pretty carefully because I know the road often has mud all over the farm entrances.
But as I was going into a right-hander a bloody great piece of farm machinery was driving right in the middle of the carriageway towards me at about 20mph. I braked hard and tried to go up the near side, but hit something that was hanging off it.
It tore my right shoulder, through good quality leathers, right down to the bone. I’ve been told by my surgeons there’s a lot of tendon and nerve damage, and my right hand is still not working properly. I’m a self-employed specialist plasterer, and can’t work.
After about six months the solicitors appointed by my insurance company told me I don’t have a case because they have been ‘referred to a case’ by the insurers called Arnott v. Sprake which says I must anticipate dangerous and slow moving vehicles in country roads. Am I right to follow their advice?
Dave the (ex) Plasterer
I am sure your solicitors are wrong. Arnott v. Sprake could apply if you rammed yourself into the back of a tractor at 170mph, but there is a case which is almost identical on the facts. Here, the Court of Appeal found that when a biker on a wet road was confronted by a wide load on the back of a lorry, following a sharp right hander, the trial Judge was perfectly entitled to find that the motorcyclist had done nothing wrong. The trial Judge recognised that when a road user makes a quick decision as the result of somebody else’s bad driving the Judge is entitled to find that there is no blame on the motorcyclist. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision.
You have some risk of having some contributory negligence found against you, because the Court may find that the vehicle approaching you was a foreseeable hazard. The worst case is realistically you losing 25 per cent of your damages if the Judge finds you were riding too fast for the circumstances.
The big difference between your case and Arnott V. Sprake is that it was the vehicle coming towards you that was closing the gap, and if there had been something stationary in the road, on your own evidence, you could have avoided it. I would not volunteer anything off your damages and press on to trial.
Your current claims handler has swallowed the line given to them by the farmers’ insurers without properly advising you on the real law. A quick check on the Solicitors Regulation Authorities website shows the person advising you is not even a qualified solicitor. I think your case is being rejected by your current advisers (I hate even calling these people solicitors) within the six months that they have to get back the £750 referral fee that they paid to buy your case, because their legal reasoning is just plain wrong.
Fast Bikes Magazine – April 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.