I was riding my adventure bike on the road when a 4×4 approached towing a horse trailer. The trailer suddenly tipped over and I collided with it. Luckily, I was fine but my bike sustained a couple of grands’ worth of damage. The trailer did not have a horse in it but was loaded with other contents.
I ran the claim through my insurers (I am fully comp) and the accident has been registered as a fault accident on my part. So, my policy excess was not repaid, I’ve lost my no claims bonus, and my bike and car insurance premiums have all gone up.
The explanation I was given was this. The driver of the car was insured but not apparently for towing as the person did not declare a towing hook on their car. The insurers also said there was no negligence on the driver’s part as they were driving normally.
The final string to this argument was that I should have anticipated what happened and been able to pull up safely. My insurers have said they are not going to pursue any further. Is there anything I can do?
Yes, there is something you can do but it will take a fair bit of effort on your part. The lines of defence are, frankly, garbage. The first line, namely the driver had not declared a tow hook is pure bullshit and totally wrong in law. An insurer covers all other road users for all risks arising from the use of a vehicle on the road. This has been established law since at least 1972.
The second (that there was no negligence on the driver’s part) might possibly be a defence but it is for the driver to prove that the car and trailer he had control over (which does not normally tip over) in fact tipped over without negligence on his part.
I know a bit about trailers and they don’t tend to suddenly tip over unless overloaded, driven too fast, or are too heavy for the car. If overloaded, a trailer can be too heavy for a car and set up a ‘snake’ which can flip a trailer over in a heartbeat.
Defence line three is comedy gold. You should have anticipated a vehicle approaching you might have an overloaded or otherwise unsafe trailer and, well, what? Never go past it? Reverse your bike so it was never alongside you? When you find the reverse gear on your motorcycle, let me know.
My advice is to go to small claims court, ideally with your insurer’s outlay as part of your claim (that would be the cost of your bike repairs). The insurers representing the car driver will fold. They need a lawyer to represent them in court and no lawyer would run defences one and three, and they carry the burden of proof on line two.
Adventure Bike Rider magazine January/February 2023