I was filtering through heavy traffic, moving at less than walking speed. The gap in front of me started closing so I braked, not especially sharply. I was then hit from behind by another bike. Whilst I did not sustain any injuries, my pillion sustained a glancing blow to her foot, but not enough to make any sort of fuss about.
As I was hit from behind, I reported the incident to my own insurers, but it has now been suggested to me by my insurers that they would like to offer an equal split of blame,with me taking 50 per cent of the blame for being hit up the backside. What on earth have I done wrong to justify losing my no claims bonus and paying the clown behind me who hit me?
Dear, oh dear. You are absolutely right. You have done nothing wrong. As you started braking, the other bike accelerated behind and you then felt a small nudge from behind as he made contact. Interestingly, all of the witnesses say that the rider behind you was riding too fast and panic braked and it appears that he was thrown over his motorcycle by his braking. You observed that the witnesses said to the Police, “I could hear the roar of the engine as it opened up,” as well as, “Due to his speed he was not going to stop,” and, “I thought he was going 30mph-plus easily.”
Basically, if you filter through traffic at 30 mph whilst gaining on another bike, you are liable. One of the witnesses says he thinks both of you are to blame because neither of you should have been filtering, and your insurers have seized upon this and are helpfully saying that you should lose your no claims bonus, and pay increased premiums for the next five years.
Funnily enough, in English law (and Scots, Welsh, Ulster and Irish law) the judge gets to decide who is at fault, not the witnesses. That’s why they get paid £140k a year and a nice pension. And have to know the law!
Filtering is perfectly lawful, provided that you can stop for foreseeable hazards. You saw the gap in front of you closing. You braked, so you dealt with a foreseeable hazard. It is not a foreseeable hazard to have some twonk hit you from behind, because he cannot filter. You mentioned the law firm by name. They have just been bought by a large insurance company, and are one of these ‘alternative business structures’ where insurers’ own people are badged as Solicitors. But judging by the quality of advice you have received, I can guarantee the individual involved has no legal qualification, thought process or rationale.
This business of insurance companies owning Solicitors keeps coming up with these problems, of motorcyclists getting dreadful advice, and the insurers taking an increased premium for many years. I cannot see how you are to blame at all for this accident. Insist that your insurers take it to Court. I have recently dealt with a case on exactly the same point, where the clown went into the back of my lady motorcyclist. The clown tried to sue my lady,and in the end the clown’s insurers paid my lady perhaps rather more than the claim was worth to avoid the costs of going to trial.
Fast Bikes Mag – January 2014