So far so easy. I used my family solicitor to run what I thought was an open and shut case. However, the defendants have instructed an expert in motorcycling, who is a police class one trained advanced motorcyclist, and on the back of his report they are saying I should take 20 per cent of the blame, because if I had been riding to advanced standards I should have been able to avoid the accident.
I understand what the copper is saying; I was going into a gentle left hander, the car pulled out from my left, and had I been on the crown of the road (rather in the middle of my lane) I would have got a clearer look and would have had more of a chance to take avoiding action.
There is no allegation that I was travelling too fast. My skid mark starts in the middle of the carriageway, and this is not textbook positioning. My solicitors are asking me for advice as to what I should do because he does not understand motorcycling. I have to accept that I was not in the correct position for an advanced rider, but should I be taking any blame?
I have had this raised against me a couple of times, including at trial. The argument, as a matter of law, is nonsense. The driver of the car owes every other road user, even if they are riding negligently, a duty of care. You only owe a duty of care to other road users to ride with sufficient competence to pass your motorcycle riding test.
If you look at the DSA Riding Manual it tells you to take your position in the middle of the carriageway. You were doing exactly that. Therefore your riding was entirely competent and the fact that you are an advanced rider, who might not have been riding to advance standards at the time, will make absolutely no difference in this case.
Your solicitor needs to know the case of Nettleship v. Weston and Rider v Rider. These are both old cases going back to the 1970s. Nettleship is authority for the proposition that you only need to ride at a standard sufficient to pass your motorcycle or driving test. Rider is authority for the proposition that you do not have to be a perfect rider or driver to have the protection of the law.
Do not take the 20 per cent discount You have clearly learnt from your experience, but it should not result in a discount to your damages.
Fast Bikes Magazine January 2011
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.