I was riding my uncle’s motorcycle on a warm summer’s day. He was working away from home and told me I could borrow it.
It is a Harley-Davidson Night Rod with a Vance & Hines exhaust fitted: It looks mean and sounds even better. I was cruising along a main A-road when a lady in a big 4×4, waiting at a junction to my nearside, pulled out in front of me, causing me to crash.
I dropped the bike and clipped the 4×4 slightly. I think the damage is minor but I broke my leg quite badly. The motorcycle got away with some light damage on the side it was dropped. My uncle is not too chuffed – with the lady driver and not me, thankfully. I have shown him where the accident happened and he agrees that she is an idiot for pulling out.
I didn’t see the 4×4 driver after the accident as I was scooped up and taken away by an ambulance. The police have now interviewed me about the accident; it turns out I should not have been riding the bike as I only hold a restricted A2 licence. I did know this but I took a chance. I feel really quite silly now. The police are not going to prosecute me; the officer who came to see me was a genuinely nice copper and thought I had suffered enough with my broken leg. It will be a long and slow recovery but I am hopeful it will not be life changing.
The police have already gone after the 4×4 driver for pulling out in front of me. They have charged her with Driving Without Due Care & Attention; however, her legal team somehow got wind of my driver’s licence being an A2 category and is defending it on the basis I should not have been on the road in the first place. Will she get off?
First of all, you are very lucky. There is nothing stopping the police prosecuting you for driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. Your licence allows you to ride a motorcycle with a power output of up to 35 kW (47bhp). The HD Night Rod was lightly tuned and putting out at least 89 kW (120bhp). You knew this but thought you would chance your arm anyway. My criticism of you ends there.
I have seen the layout of the junction you refer to. It is a long, straight road with good visibility and there is no reason for the 4×4 driver not to see you. She was in an elevated position and there was no other traffic to obscure you from her sight.
The Harley-Davldson has been examined by the police and no defects were found aside from a comment on the noisy exhaust. The defence her team is running is rubbish. You were on the major road and there to be seen. She pulled out into your path when you were only a few feet away. The accident was always going to happen, I am afraid, and you have done nothing wrong in terms of your riding. To show how absurd her defence argument is, let’s just say you were riding your own bike; a Kawasaki Ninja 250 or even a pedal cycle. She would have still not seen you, pulled out and the collision would have occurred. Your licence has nothing to do with her rubbish driving.
To successfully defend the charge put to her, she will need to show that her driving did not fall below the standard of a competent and careful driver. From the facts you have given me, and having seen the accident location, I cannot see any basis by which her driving could be described as careful or competent. I think the prosecution will be able to show the court her driving fell below the standard and the court will convict her. She will likely face disqualification or points on her licence, as well as a fine.
There is no need to watt for the criminal case to finish before you bring your civil claim for damages; you have up to three years from the date of the accident to bring this claim but I would not delay.
RiDE Magazine September 2019