Last summer I was riding my sportsbike home when I came across a recently resurfaced road. The entire road was covered in tiny loose chippings.

It was as though they’d been thrown onto the surface and were so deep that, in places, it was like riding on ice. My front wheel lost traction and I was thrown off my machine.

I partially fell into the path of an oncoming car and my right hand was run over. Despite my serious hand injuries, I feel so lucky to survive. I could have so easily been killed.

I went back to the scene a few weeks after getting out of hospital. There were warning signs placed before and during the resurfacing. You could now clearly see the two lines that passing traffic had grooved into the road surface, but there was still lots of loose chipplngs at the edges and in the middle of the carriageway. I have been told I have three years to bring a claim. I don’t know where to start and need some help. Do I have a claim?


Yes, you do have a claim. I have dealt with so many of these types of cases. What you experienced was a ‘surface dressing’ type of road resurfacing.

It is cheaper, easier, and quicker than regular road resurfacing but potentially deadly to us motorcyclists. The method entails stripping back the old road surface, laying fresh bitumen, and then covering it in aggregate. The passing traffic then embeds this surface aggregate into the bitumen. This type of resurfacing is usually done in the summer months as it needs fo be warm to work well.

You came across the road shortly after the aggregate was placed on the road and I can see in the photographs taken by the police that the sub-contractor literally threw this stuff onto the road, without sweeping away the excess, it appears to be 3-4cm deep in places; I am not surprised you lost control on it. I would have fallen off, too, especially on a sportsbike!

Your claim is against the local authority. It might try to blame the sub-contractor but don’t get muddled by all of this fingerpointing. The local authority has a statutory duty under S.41 of the Highways Act 1980. It is a non-delegable duty, so the buck stops there.

I think you will win your claim 100%. It is always worth getting gravel samples in any road surface claim. Enough gravel to fill up a Pot Noodle pot. I say this because I have experience of local authorities trying to argue the Goodes v. East Sussex point, which basically stated that local authorities are not liable for surface-laying material other than ice. A gravel sample will help you prove this wasn’t surface material but rather the fabric of the highway itself. Like I said, I expect a 100% win but don’t give away easy points by not getting this evidence in hand.

Putting up 20mph signs or warning signs does not make the road safe. It was inherently dangerous to our class of road user (motorcycles and cyclists) and I don’t think you are going to face any arguments over contributory negligence.

With the roads taking a real battering in the winter months, all of us bikers need to be alert to these types of road hazards as the weather warms up. I cannot see the local authority ever banning this type of resurfacing works despite having to pay out on your claim. It is still cheaper for them to bear that cost and use this method to repair roads. That is the sad truth of the matter – economics.

Get a decent solicitor on the case as your hand injury appears to be life-changing. I won’t publish what you do for a living but there are going to be considerable future losses which need to be evidenced in your claim. The three-year rule is correct you need to settle your claim within three years. If not then court proceedings MUST be issued before the end of the third anniversary of your accident else the claim becomes statute barred. Limitation dates vary but it is three years in your claim.

Gavin Grewal

Fast Bikes April 2022