Spilt diesel is less of a problem for motorcyclists than it once was but the folklore of slippery roads still holds true.
Diesel and other slippery surface pollutants wash up when rain follows a long dry spell. Garage exits are notorious for build ups of diesel and on a rainy day a slip road coming out of services stands a good chance of living up to its name. If you see that ominous dark streak on a dry road or the ugly rainbow on wet tarmac, followed by a slide, what can you do to ensure you keep your no claims bonus, get your kit replaced and if you are hurt recover your losses and recompense your injuries?
Unless you know who dropped the diesel you will need to bring an untraced drivers claim against the Motor Insurers Bureau who are obliged to meet a claim arising from the use of the vehicle where the user or the owner of the vehicle would be liable if they could be traced. The law is in a state of flux at the moment, with European Treaties which cover this not really being followed by the Motor Insurers Bureau. The MIB often declined to pay for damaged kit on third party only insured bikes as this is what the UK agreement says, but this is not compliant with EU law so with a bit of pressure they will pay. However, if your bike is comprehensively insured or your kit is insured then the MIB don’t have to pay.
Occasionally you can find out who dropped the diesel, or coolant or anything else slippery and you have a straightforward case against the driver. There is some legal controversy around this point. As a matter of unchanged law from the 1970s a person who deposits something on the highway is liable without negligence but I suspect the next time the High Court looks at this, a different finding will be made, namely that you will have to show negligence, or a big case will grind on to the Supreme Court.
Under the current MIB rules in order for you to bring an untraced drivers claim you need to inform the police within seven days of the collision, but it is more important than that to call the police. You need to get your camera phone out to photograph the dark mark or slick and when the police arrive point out the diesel and ask the police to have a little sniff. If the police note a smell of diesel then you are a long way to getting recompense from the Motor Insurers Bureau.
You have to prove it was a substance from a vehicle which caused you to slide down the road. It is a presumption of law that if a road user allows a dangerous substance to get onto the highway then they are liable for it. If there is a slippery substance on the road a sample of it can be absolutely key, whatever substance it is.
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.