It all seemed straightforward enough. I speak some French, the other driver spoke some English but things have unravelled. Either I noted the number plate down incorrectly or the guy was on false number plates.
I sustained minor injuries which did not surface for a few hours. It turned out that I had a small fracture in my finger and I had torn muscles in my upper back, which kept me off work for a few weeks.
My own Insurance broker has been useless. The phones appear to be answered by some kind of claims company and they do not have a clue.
My legal expenses insurance covers me for ‘European collisions’ but I have had no help at all. They keep referring me to a claims management company that wants me to hire a motorcycle, despite my bike having already been repaired directly by my fully comprehensive insurers.
I have lost my no-claims bonus. Do I have any scope for recompense, for my kit, lost earnings, and lost no-claims bonus?
You do in part, have an avenue for recompense. The fully comprehensive claim on your bike insurance means that you have lost your no-claims bonus.
Your claim for kit. Injuries and lost Income has to jump through a number of procedural hoops.
Eventually you will be compensated but in my experience, you will have to start the court process here in the United Kingdom.
First of all, you register the registration number of the third party with the British Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
After a few weeks, their French equivalents will tell you if the third party is registered in France and their insurers. It is always a good idea to photograph the other vehicle involved in a collision, wherever in the world you are.
This is particularly so with French and some other European drivers, who often have an insurance sticker either on their windscreen or the number plate itself. If the plates were fake or noted down incorrectly and the other particulars provided to you were false, you can bring a claim for your losses based on the Belgian law for untraced drivers (which is very similar to English and Welsh law). Whether or not you will be able to continue this type of case after Brexit remains to be seen.
The MIB will get instructions, slowly, from the Belgian Fondes Commun De Garantie Belge, which is the Belgian equivalent to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
All members of the European Union have to have a system in place whereby victims of untraced drivers can seek proper compensation. This is actually modelled on the British system from the late 1940s and adopted across the EU.
I am not being overly pessimistic when I warn you to dig in for a long process, it would have been helpful if there had been a police report, but the absence of one is certainly not fatal to your case.
The fact you were treated in hospital and told the hospital staff (in French, so it cannot be that shabby) that you had been knocked off your motorcycle, and you had details of the third party, would be enough to satisfy most English Courts that you were knocked off your motorcycle in the way you described.
You will also need to prove that the French driver was at fault in Belgian law. This can only be proven by expert evidence from a Belgian lawyer, should the matter proceed to court.
It is almost inevitable that you will have to pursue the British Motor Insurers’ Bureau as agents for the Belgian guarantee fund. Expect to get close to trial before a settlement is offered. Expect the process to take at least a couple of years. It is not difficult, but It is slow.
RiDE Magazine October 2017