I was involved in a minor prang with a French driver in France. Apart from the police being complete t***s, it all went straightforwardly enough.

Monsieur Frenchman accepted the incident was his fault and I only had pretty modest bumps and bruises. A firm of solicitors was appointed for me by my insurers, but now everything has gone very quiet. I have had to reinsure my bike and have lost my no claims bonus – which is a bit much on a ZX-10R – and I am still out of pocket for my leathers and helmet, along with the kit that burst out of my soft luggage, my mobile phone and Garmin.

The accident happened in June 2010, and nothing seems to be happening. My solicitors tell me this is the way things go in France and I will have to be patient. I just get an occasional request for paperwork – usually French hospital papers – and I can only speak about 50 words of French.

Is there anything I can do to speed up this very dull and long process?

Name supplied

Yes. The law firm you mention is well known to me and I’m pleased to say your insurers have given the claim to a firm that actually does know what it is doing, probably because it cannot sell foreign claims. But now you’re bored, it’s time to sue in an English Court, applying English procedural rules and rules of evidence but for French damages.

The French system of assessing the value of injuries is based on a tariff and I’m afraid I can’t help you much on that. I have to ask a French lawyer to value these for me, but your out of pocket expenses are calculated on pretty well identical grounds to English law. My experience of the British Agents of this particular insurance company is that they make it as hard as possible for claimants, hoping you’ll get bored and go away. Well, you have got bored.

If I were your solicitor I would be suing in the English Courts, the agents will be replaced by a law firm, who know you and your solicitors mean business, and a cheque will surely follow. I think the document your solicitors are after is a ‘release’ note from a French casualty department, which in France is a requirement, but in my opinion, this is a matter of procedural law and is not required. Unless there is an obvious injury requiring treatment, French casualty doctors don’t seem to give these out to British motorcyclists.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes December 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.