We both slowed: I said to him I would pass and he didn’t say anything. I rode to his offside but did not realise his trailer had massive balloon tyres, and I wasn’t looking at the ground before I went to pass him.
I hit the tyre, tumbled off, cracking my shoulder and scraping my head down the side of the livestock trailer. I now have a shoulder injury which means I am off work for six weeks, or at least six weeks of very light duties if my boss can find me something to do. The trailer, it turns out, is not road legal as it did not have mudguards, and the tyres were not for road use, so to my way of thinking. If he was on the road illegally, he must be to blame.
A passer-by called the police and they attended but they were not interested in the illegality of the trailer. One officer drove me to the local hospital as I was going to have to wait four hours for an ambulance and the farmer took my bike home and dropped it off at my house in the same trailer – this time behind his road-going pick-up truck.
If you tell me I don’t have a claim, I will leave it but I am pretty unhappy to have six weeks off work which has thrown me pretty badly into debt. My bike has got some minor damage, my cheap MX helmet is knackered, and my goggle strap need replacement, so this is not claim of the century but do you reckon I should go for it?
Not really, no. I am genuinely sad that six weeks off work has left you with real problems, which is something a lot of people experience following any accident, because Statutory Sick Pay is so low.
You ask a proper question and we need to break this down to answer it. In a rural area, you must expect to find rural traffic. A quad towing an agricultural trailer is exactly what you might expect to find on a rural single track.
You say the trailer was illegal, because of the tyres and the mudguards but there are numerous exemptions for agricultural vehicles travelling less than six miles between two farmed areas and agricultural vehicles do not need MOT’s, insurance and are largely exempted from most construction and use regulations. So the police are not going to be especially interested but it turns out the quad was insured. Even if this were not the case, the illegality of the tyres made no difference to your own assessment as the trailer wasn’t moving. Likewise, the lack of mudguards played no part in this collision, so for the purposes of a claim, are irrelevant.
But then we get down even further into causation. In daylight hours, you rode your motorcycle into a balloon tyre which was not invisible. You mention that the quad-riding farmer didn’t say anything to you when you said you would pass but why would he? I suspect he drew the rational inference that you would look where you were going.
So on the basic legal test of causation, the question is: “What caused your Injury” and, unfortunately for you, it was you riding into a stationary tyre. As to “he shouldn’t have been on the road because he was illegal”, I suspect he was legal but even if I am wrong, his illegality was not causative of the collision and therefore, not relevant.
You may be conflating the ancient principle “out of a crime no claim shall arise” – I avoid the Latin. So if the farmer, in dropping your bike off, had blown the same road-illegal tyres on a journey not covered by agricultural vehicle exemptions and that blow-out had caused someone harm, then the cause of the harm would be the farmer’s Illegal act but also, and much more conventionally, a case of straightforward negligence.
Your injury arose, sadly, from your misjudgement and a bad fall. We all make riding errors, or miss something, but most of the time we get away with it. When we don’t, it does not mean you get to successfully claim from anyone.
RiDE Magazine March 2021