I went for an overtake of a long queue of traffic when I was struck really hard on the back of my shoulder, followed by an almighty bang on the head. It knocked me clean off my bike but I could not work out what had hit me.
As I picked myself up a guy in a campervan that was in the traffic jumped out and said he’d caught the whole incident on his dashcam.
It turns out that an earth-moving truck had driven over a jockey wheel that you get on caravans and trailers, which had obviously fallen out of someone’s caravan. It had spat the jockey wheel and bar out, which hit the back of my shoulder and then my head. It was like somebody had taken to me with a cricket bat but luckily, apart from one quite spectacular bruise on my back (weirdly the shoulder hurts more but it is virtually unmarked) and an enormous gouge taken out of my now-worthless helmet, I am alright.
My bike is comprehensively insured and my helmet is covered under my household policy. However, had I been seriously hurt, what could I have done? And can I get away without using my fully-comprehensive insured, which has a £200 excess? A few of my mates have told me about a scheme for losses arising from untraced drivers. We do have the registration number for the truck but we have no idea where the jockey wheel came from.
It seems to me that the truck driver has not actually done anything wrong. When you say an earth mover, I presume you mean an eight-wheel rigid lorry, and I am not sure that any court in the land would find it negligent of a lorry driver to avoid something which he might or might not have seen on the road, which is small and relatively flat. I think going after the lorry driver is a non-starter.
The second question you asked me is about the Motor Insurer’s Bureau. There is indeed a scheme for paying out for the victims of untraced drivers. However, the rules are quite strict. They are ‘an insurer of last resort’ which means that if you have a fully-comprehensive policy, then that policy must pay out and you cannot go after the general fund which all insured motorists pay into to recover your personal loss.
Insofar as your helmet is concerned, again, the same rule applies. Because it is insured, you cannot go after the MIB. Had you not had it covered on your household insurance, you could have gone after the MIB for your lid and you can still go after the MIB for your injury. However, I really would not. Vicious-looking bruising is unlikely to attract an award of much more than £500. You will have to log into the Motor Insurer’s Bureau’s portal, which is the shonkiest piece of interface I have seen for a very longtime. Unfortunately, we professionally have to use the Motor Insurer’s Bureau’s portal. The MIB is also extraordinarily slow at dealing with anything like this.
Whereas a matter of law, it seems to me that you do have a claim for injury which you could run against the MIB, unless £500 is worth it for you, and you are prepared to put up with the hassle, delay and medical examinations that the MIB will put you to, when they eventually put you to it, then you can pursue it.
Looking at your bike and the kit that was damaged I can safely assume you are not short of a few quid. It would appear £500 to you is not a huge sum of money but getting it represents a significant amount of hassle and a very long wait.
Had you been more seriously injured, my answer would be different. If things had gone much worse than they did. or you had a career-damaging or ending injury, I would certainly say “go after the MIB” but it seems relatively small claims, whether against the MIB or indeed insurers, have been made as user-unfriendly as posslble to try to squeeze them out of the system.
Sadly, as you can tell from my response. it seems to be working.
RiDE Magazine August 2021