I was riding along with a group of friends on reasonably quiet country roads. I know the roads well enough, but they are not roads I use that often.
I was the lead rider. As I entered a fairly tight left-hander, which I braked for, both wheels just slid out from underneath me. I landed hard on my left shoulder, stretching the nerves under my left arm. I have got no feeling in my left arm but the doctors are pretty sure that it will return. Luckily, my friends were pretty switched on and took photographs of the road surface which had a liberal coating of mud and cow shit all over it.
I’ve been told that I am not going to be able to return to my work as an electrician for about six months, and even then I might still have some residual problems using my left hand. Is there anything I can do?
Yes there is. You need to do some basic detective work. If the trail of mud and ordure leads from a farm entrance to a field, then on the balance of probabilities it is that farmer who has deposited dangerous material on the highway. Strict liability applies to this. The farmer is liable.
There is a second method that you can use, which is to inform the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) of the material on the carriageway. If there is not a farm entrance and field along that stretch of road, then it is much more likely than not that that material was dropped from an agricultural trailer for example.
I have dealt with any number of cases like this. Quite often the MIB will lean straight on the farmer’s insurers to meet the claim. There are various rules and regulations which apply to this, which are too complicated to go into here, but let us just say that the MIB (the organisation which pays for damage to victims of untraced drivers) has quite a lot of leverage over these insurance companies.
What is key is for you to get evidence of the state of the road at the time of the accident, which your friends with their mobile phone cameras have done. I have seen the photos. They certainly appear to lead into a field with a gate, and it will not be difficult for you to find out who the owner of that field is through the Land Registry.
I would however recommend, for a technical claim such as this, that you use highly specialist solicitors. High Street solicitors – who would be fine to do a divorce, write your will, sell your house, and all the ‘ordinary’ jobs that solicitors do – are out of their depth with this technical area of law.
RiDE Magazine Legal Clinic May 2012
Andrew Dalton is Senior Partner with White Dalton, solicitors specialising in motorcycle related claims