Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear

If it’s not an old dear, it’s young deer out to get us. So what happens in a crash?

My journey home takes me through some very rural roads. On one journey I went to overtake a Ford Mondeo on a gentle right hand curve at about 40mph. During the overtake I had to brake very hard as a small deer leapt out into the road and froze. I braked hard and I lost the bike. For any animal lovers, the deer hopped away unharmed…

My bike then hit a car on the opposite carriageway. The woman was hysterical and she had a baby in who got a bit squashed behind the airbag, but as far as I could tell no one was injured.

My bike is third party only so I’m taking it on the chin. But my insurers have been in touch with me advising me they are proposing to pay out the hysterical woman for a hire car, injury, shock and all the usual stuff. I don’t feel I am at all to blame for this accident – and no one can sue a deer. I don’t want to lose my no claims bonus as my other bike is a ZZR1400 on a fully comp policy and my insurance will go through the roof.

My insurers say the collision was not the woman’s fault, so they should pay out. Luckily, the guy in the Mondeo is also a biker and he has said my overtake was perfectly safe and he confirms the deer just leapt out of a bush, and there was nothing wrong with my riding or my reactions.

The police turned up and were sympathetic to everyone but got a bit fed up with the driver moaning that I could have “killed her baby” and eventually the policewoman told her that her car seat had a big label on it saying don’t use this seat in a front seat with airbags and that set her off even worse! So, am I going to lose my no claims bonus?

Martin Russell – Buckinghamshire

You won’t lose your no claims bonus so long as your insurers man up and grow a pair. As someone who has hit one of these kamikaze deer, you have my sympathy. Your insurers are also completely wrong. You are allowed to overtake. Luckily, the driver of the car didn’t do the usual pant wetting statement about the reckless biker hammering past him, so the boot is on your foot.

Now here is the law. You need to be able to stop for foreseeable hazards and a suicidal deer leaping out of a bush, in the dark, is not a foreseeable hazard and your overtake is neither here nor there. The fact that you binned your bike only shows you responded to a hazard in a foreseeable way. Your accident was exactly that, an accident. Your riding did not fall below the standards of a competent motorcyclist.

Police Road Craft, a book I regularly use in Court goes into real detail about the tyre grip trade off. You had to violently brake and this was not as a result of inadequate riding on your part. The hysterical driver has to prove on the balance of probabilities that you caused the accident by inadequate riding.

The police report and an independent witness support your proposition that you were riding perfectly properly and remind them that Mrs Hysterical has to prove your riding was bad enough to cause the accident. Remind them that they cannot admit liability on your behalf and if they do you will take the matter up with the Financial Ombudsman.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes February 2012

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: February 2, 2012 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.