A Spiralling Problem

A Spiralling Problem

I asked my boss if I could use my bike for work, instead of getting caned for tax on a diesel Astra estate. I work in IT and my toolkit fits into my Kreiga backpack. My boss said yes, and I get paid the same rate for using my bike as using my own car for work.

All was fine with this arrangement – until I fell off on company business. The fall was my fault. I clipped a raised bollard on a keep left sign whilst pushing through traffic a bit quicker than I meant to.

In my fall I got a nasty lower leg fracture, which the doctors have called a ‘spiral fracture’. I was wearing my own motorcycle boots, which are proper motorcycle boots, but look like casual boots. My employers have paid my wages when I have been off work sick but my wife reckons that l should sue my employers as they should have risk assessed my riding and my kit.

I am not at all keen on this and I would like to put an end to this. What do you say?

Anon

Answer

I’d say ‘man up’ to the missus. Your employers do owe a duty of care as to how you travel at work. You have chosen to wear ‘stout footwear’ which covers your ankle. I often choose to ride in a very similar pair of casual boots. If your employers had done a risk assessment they would have seen you were wearing stout footwear that would have ticked the box. Also, you could have had the very best race derived boots or a massive pair of motocross boots on, and you would still have got a spiral fracture.

A spiral fracture is caused by your foot staying still and something moving violently over it; in this case your moving bike sliding over your pinned shin, snapping it. Your foot was going to rotate whatever boots you were wearing – and if you had been wearing a chunky pair of motocross boots I suspect you would have had an even worse injury, because the rotational forces would have concentrated on your knee rather than down your shin bone (which, despite being a bloody nasty injury is easier to repair than tearing all your knee ligaments and still having a spiral fracture).

I suspect you might get a solicitor to have a go at your case, but I think you would lose. I have won cases where people are sent out on work’s bikes without proper’ kit on, but it seems to me that your case would have to be based on you not having ‘proper’ boots, when in fact your boots where entirely proper for the job – and your method of transport of getting to and from work cannot be risk free and you chose it yourself.

If you had crashed your company car, you would not be looking at going after your employers and as a matter of law, and I cannot see that a motorbike makes any difference at all.

Our lawyers get provided with company bikes, which they use, at their discretion, for work. They all wear reasonable safety kit, but it is at their own discretion. If one of my solicitors came into work wearing trainers, on a company bike, I would have sharp words with them, but it would not make me liable for their decision as to what shoes to wear that day.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes Summer 2016

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Posted on: September 8, 2016 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.