I was riding with a group of lads the week before lockdown one. I was fairly new to the group, which organises rideouts through social media.
I followed the three other lads who knew the roads on a ride which was too fast for me. I could keep up but it was getting very scrappy.
Being totally honest, I was riding well outside of my comfort zone and while I managed to keep up for a while, I eventually went into a bend which had high bushes on either side. I think I dabbed the brakes (my bike does have ABS) but whatever happened, I didn’t make it out of the bend, and I sustained quite serious injuries.
There is some doubt whether I will be fit enough to return to my job once furlough ends. My wife is crapping herself, and she has taken some legal advice and apparently I might have a claim against the other lads because they owe a duty to a following rider. I’m not sure I believe this, and I’m very reluctant to start threatening legal proceedings against the lads I ride with, but I’m also concerned that I now need money to provide for my family.
The other issue is that there was a ‘slow’ painted on to the road, but it had faded so badly it was virtually unreadable. Should I bring a claim? If so, against who? My mates or the council?
No, you shouldn’t against either your mates or the council. I suspect your wife has spoken to someone who has looked at a book called Bingham and Berrymans which contains a mix of cases arising from collisions, many of which are very old and no longer good law.
The case which implies a duty to a lead motorcycle is a case from 1938, and as little as a year later the case was described as limited to its own facts by the Court of Appeal in the same book.
There was one very odd crown court case from issue years back where the judge was definitely having a bad day and upheld a conviction which was wrong in law, namely that a leading rider in a group had criminal responsibility for the riding of riders behind him. That case was decided wrongly, and I suspect the riders involved in that case ran out of money to appeal further.
The test the court will apply to your case is, did you take proper care for yourself while riding? Your ego outstripping your talent does not give a cause of action against anyone. I have seen the advice your wife has got herself but as the three bikes made it round that bend and you didn’t it would indicate that you were the person riding beyond your talents.
It has taken me a while to unpick the nonsense which has come from the person purporting to advise your wife but he seems to place upon the three other lads the duty of a teacher. If you had been pulled into a fast bend while you were learning to ride a motorcycle by a motorcycle instructor then you would have a case, but this is not at all what happened.
As to the faded painted warning in the road, this has been decided at Supreme Court and Court of Appeal level and you have absolutely zero chance of getting that case off the ground.
The courts in England and Wales have made it crystal clear that when you use the road, you do so with your eyes open. There is no obligation for the council to warn you that a bend is sharp. It may choose to. but it doesn’t have to.
The court expects you to use your eyes and your brain to interpret the road. If you commence a case, all you will do is lose your mates and waste the council’s time.
Fast Bikes March 2021