When three different solicitors offer three different sets of advice, who do you listen to? The right answer is our Andrew, of course!
I was moving past traffic that was stacked up on the way into Brighton. I was approaching road works that had shut off one lane, and as my lane was on red and the oncoming traffic had not started coming through, I was moving round the outside of the traffic at about 40mph. The speed limit is 50mph.
As I was passing I saw a car emerging out of the traffic on my left and into a petrol station. According to the police I left a seven-metre skid mark and I banged into the side of a car. I sustained a broken wrist which healed up pretty well after about 12 weeks.
I went to the solicitors that my dad had used for years, because I did not fancy the solicitors that came free with my insurance and my current solicitors are saying that this is a 50/50 case. They are not specialist bike solicitors, so I have done my own internet research and been on a few forums and apparently I can rely on a case called Davies v Schrogin, which held a car driver entirely to blame in identical circumstances.
The other driver’s insurers want to hit me up for 80 per cent as I was ‘overtaking by a junction’ and they have quoted a case called Powell v Moody from 1966.
So my options are either the other driver was wholly to blame, it is equal blame or I am 80 per cent to blame and everyone seems very sure that they are right. They cannot all be right, so what do you reckon?
The facts here are simple. Whilst the speed limit was 50mph, you were traveling at 40mph. The car driver made a predictable but unwise turn. If the car had made a U-turn from the far left of the carriageway then Davies V Schrogin would be persuasive.
However, not very good lawyers and forum commentators pay far far too much attention to ‘precedents’. As every Senior Court has made clear, road traffic collisions turn on their own particular facts and no two circumstances are Identical. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that previous decisions provide ‘a useful jumping off point’ in collision cases, but the true sign of a green lawyer in Court on a collision case is an armful of past cases.
So with that in mind the Judge will be aware of Davies v Schrogin and he will be aware of Powell and Moody, but Powell v Moody is a case that should never see the light of day. Every experienced and competent lawyer knows that it has been routinely ignored and doubted by the Courts since 1972.
However, your case is what you are interested in. My strong feeling Is that your solicitors have got it right. It is a case where you were bowling along the outside of stationary or crawling traffic. There were turns drivers could legitimately and predictably make. One driver did just that. However, you are just as legitimately and predictably passing traffic to your inside.
The driver should not turn if he has not moved to the crown of the road, following a clear indication, and checks in his door mirror and over his shoulder before he moves. If he had done those things he would have seen you, and more to the point you would have seen him. Each of you would have stopped and you would not have had a collision. Likewise, you should not ride so that you cannot stop for predictable hazards, and a car turning into a garage from a queue of stationary traffic is a predictable hazard.
80 per cent of Judges, I think, would go 50/50 on this. There is a small minority of Judges who are really hard on bikers, but in my experience these are a lot rarer than you might think. There is an equally small minority of Judges who are very sympathetic to anyone who has an injury, but in front of most Judges you would each be found equally to blame, so follow your solicitor’s advice. It is sound.
Fast Bikes October 2016