When events overtake you…

When events overtake you…

When you go and try to make a pass stick, what happens when you get unstuck?

I was riding my Fireblade along a fast single carriageway road when I overtook a car. I blipped by it with no problem. I then came up behind a dark BMW that I later found out was a de-badged M5, travelling at about 65mph – the speed limit was 60 mph. I went to overtake, gassed it up to about 85, but as I glanced over my left shoulder the BMW was still alongside me. I accelerated harder still, and I only managed to put a couple of metres between me and the BMW.

The M5 was accelerating hard to match my pace. I think he was deliberately waiting for me to come alongside so he could show off his performance. I was not racing the guy. If I had wanted to obliterate him I’d have dropped a gear or two and caned it. I didn’t even change down. It was just a regular overtake.

I know the road well, and I know that I was now approaching a keep left bollard on a left hand bend going towards a junction. But I panicked, braked, lost control of the bike, hit the raised kerb and bollard, and I sustained really serious injuries that could end my career.

After the accident, the Police found my bike at the side of the road in fifth gear. The police were professional, but not overly sympathetic to either of us and now the other guy in the M5 is trying to contact me. What should I do?

Name Withheld

First of all do not speak to the guy in the M5. I suspect he is trying to contact you because the Police want to interview him. Your injuries are severe, and the law is clear. The vehicle being overtaken must maintain a safe and steady course. The driver of the M5 did not know what you were going to do, he did not know if you were going to accelerate harder, or brake to tuck back in; he needs to stay at his road speed.

Your case will stand or fall on its evidence. You know what happened but the Judge does not. You were there, the Judge was not. So you need evidence. If the following driver says the BMW accelerated as you were overtaking you will win. The Judge might reduce your award if the overtake was too close to a bend, but as you have said the road had open short white lines at the point you started to overtake; this usually means that the road Is safe to overtake. The Judge, if he finds speed causative, will probably knock you down 20 per cent or so, but from what you have told me, speed is not the problem, it is the M5 driver.

If there are no witnesses then your case turns on your word against that of the M5 driver and a lot depends on how you and the guy in the M5 shape up in court. You have been very honest, admitted you were travelling at the moment of overtake at 2Smph over the speed limit and Judges like that (the being honest bit not the 85mph bit). You have also admitted panicking and taking the wrong decision and, again, Judges are pretty forgiving about that.

What Judges hate is people spinning an incredible line. Contrary to urban myth, Judges are usually clever and fair with highly trained bullshit detectors. Keep up with the honesty and don’t allow yourself to waiver from your recollection. It is better to be honest from day one rather than change your story as evidence comes in. The evidence, including your bike being in a high gear, supports your story and I would certainly have some questions for Mr M5 as to why he had stealthily de-badged a very high performance car.

Bearing in mind the severity of the Injuries you sustained, I would certainly run your case to trial if I thought you would make a good and credible witness, even If no other witnesses showed up. If the driver in the following car supports your story you will win, but expect some criticism from at least the other side for your admitted speeding – but I am not sure the Judge will be so convinced. I think you may be able to establish full liability against the other driver.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes – September 2016

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Posted on: October 6, 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.

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