Motorcycle Filtering Accident Claim

My son was in an accident where he was filtering down the outside of standing or slow traffic, when a car pulled out of a ‘give way’ junction to cross the central reservation and join the opposite carriageway.

My son’s motorcycle and the car came into contact just forward of the driver’s side front wheel, sending my son over the bonnet. The police arrived and told my son he might face charges for dangerous driving if he was filtering (even though he was only doing 20mph in a 40mph limit) and they would investigate.

The officer pointed out my son could lose his licence, so he then decided against going to casualty. If my son was driving dangerously, shouldn’t he have been prosecuted? This should have made no difference whether he got medical treatment.

My son contacted his insurers, who arranged a hire bike. I think this was covered by legal expenses, because my son paid extra for a policy which would give him a hire bike. He was told that if he didn’t take a fairly low offer for the price of his bike, the insurance company would not pay any more hire fees.

The insurance company also said that if he was found to be partially to blame for the accident, they would come back after him for the money that he’s spent on his own bike.

His insurance company are now saying that he will have to accept 50/50 in terms of blame, as he was filtering. I’ve been riding for more than 25 years, and I don’t know any law which states filtering is an illegal manoeuvre, but I know full well that failure to observe a give way sign is either dangerous or careless and I can’t see how this can be argued against.

Can you help my son out?

Name and address witheld

By no stretch of the imagination can your son’s riding be called dangerous. Overtaking queues of stationary or slow traffic is not unlawful, but it can be careless if you cannot pull up safely within the distance you can see in front. The Highway Code advises against overtaking by a junction. Whilst breach of a Highway Code is not a criminal offence itself, it can be compelling evidence that an offence, such as `without due care’ has taken place.

I wonder if the police said that your son, if he wanted to press charges against the other driver, would also have charges pressed against him for ‘without due care‘.

Your son’s insurers are probably right as to the 50/50 blame. The car driver was wrong, as he pulled out when unsighted, and should have expected vehicles to be filtering. However, your son also overtook by a junction and was unable to stop for a foreseeable hazard.

As a strict matter of law, the insurance company which paid out for your son’s bike are right to come back for half the money.

If the payment was made without prejudice and subject to liability, then they can come back for half the money. However, your son has some injuries, which from your description are likely to be worth around £1,000.

The insurance company would be unlikely to sue your son to get the moneyback, so I’d suggest that you value the overall losses that your son has sustained. These would include his bike, kit, helmet, incurred bus fares, and his injuries. Because assessing injuries is a fairly skilled job, you really do need somebody who knows what they’re doing for this part.

If the total comes to around £4,000, and your son already has £2,000, then it might be time to draw a line under things.

Andrew Dalton

Filter Instant – Fast Bikes Magazine

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: July 21, 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.