I had a single vehicle crash. I was riding along an A-road when my rear wheel just shot out from underneath me. I got away with pretty modest injuries, but my bike is a mess.
The recovery guy pointed out the sump plug on my motorcycle had come out. My bike has always been serviced by a local Independent trader, who has always stamped my book. I asked him to fix the damage. His words to me were “You can piss off!”, followed by the suggestion I had crashed then removed the plug to run a scam on his shop. I used to pay him £20 cash about every six weeks to check and adjust my chain, check the oil and do the tyres.
Up until this point he was always friendly and would banter with me about how useless I am, which I took in good humour, not least because it is true. I do not want to use my fully comp cover: I am new to motorcycling and quite young, so is there anything that I can do? The repair bill is around £4000 in parts and about £1000 in labour.
The good news is your case is actually quite easy. First of all you need to show on the balance of probabilities that the sump plug shaking loose was the cause of your incident.
That is not a high burden. Ideally the recovery guy can confirm this in either a letter or a short witness statement. You’ll then need to show the oil was changed by your not very friendly mechanic. The invoice and stamped service book will prove this. Then you need to get this material before a district Judge In the Small Claims Court.
The mechanic’s suggestion that you crashed then removed the sump plug, and that your whole claim is dishonest, will struggle in court. You would need to have incredible presence of mind, as well as the correctly sized socket and ratchet to crash your bike, and then think about taking the sump plug out and dropping the oil to create a fraudulent claim against an honest dealer.
The courts only have to be satisfied as to what is likely, and when you put down what the mechanic’s allegations amount to, you can see they are intrinsically unlikely.
Bearing in mind your self admitted lack of mechanical knowledge, you may need to show the Judge how oil is changed on your bike, I think the court would be entirely satisfied with you providing them with a YouTube video showing how your particular bike has its oil changed. A Haynes Manual will also demonstrate how oil is changed, and exactly how the sump plug must come out.
This is a Small Claims Court and does not involve the wigs, gowns and theatre of the High Court. The Judge, who may never have changed oil in their life, also needs to know what a sump plug does, and what happens when it falls out. Provided you can show who did the work, that it failed and your losses arising from that failure, you will get judgement. I suspect your now ex-mechanic, once he gets the summons, may talk to you a little more constructively.
Having carried out a quick Companies House search on the limited company owned by your mechanic, it seems he is a viable and profitable business, so when you get Judgement against him In the sum of about £5000, I’d suggest you seek damages of £70 per week for every week your bike was off the road. You will not be suing the mechanic directly: he operates by way of a limited company, which he wholly owns, so you will have to name that company as the defendant.
You do not need a lawyer; this is exactly the kind of case the Small Claims Court is set up for – one of simple facts, simple law, and straightforward evidence, I don’t really need to wish you good luck as your case will take some losing.
RiDE Magazine October 2019