I was out on my 2004 Honda Fireblade with some friends. We did our usual route and I was the group leader.
We got to a long straight and I opened it up. The next thing I know I was tumbling down the road on my head. I hit some loose gravel, which spun my rear wheel up, when it re-gripped, it threw me into a wobble and I clattered off.
Thankfully my bike slid and my crash bungs took most of the impact. I damaged my leathers and helmet but escaped without any real injury, I think I was sore for two days.
I called my insurance company, who put me onto another repairer company. They came out, picked up my bike, and got me to sign a ‘credit storage agreement’. I didn’t hear a thing for about six weeks and now I am being told they cannot take the case on as there is no third-party driver or vehicle. I have a ‘storage bill’ of £900! I approached a solicitor who said they couldn’t take my case on as my injuries were resolved after two days.
The solicitor is correct, as injuries which resolve in less than three weeks are subject to the Small Claims so track and legal costs are not recoverable. However, you do have a claim – and that is against the local authority, which has a responsibility to ensure that the highway is maintained, if the loose gravel was once part of the fabric of the highway, then I am of the opinion that the local authority is liable to you. By the sounds of it your claim is worth between £1000 and £2000 (excluding credit storage… more on that below), which is well within the Small Claims limit. If the local authority does not agree to pay for your damaged kit, bike, and minor injuries, you are entitled to bring a claim against them using the court process. The rules in Small Claims are relaxed and designed to be used by non-lawyers.
I form the opinion that there is a real issue with the Credit Storage Agreement and subsequent £900 bill it appears your insurer has taken your premium, for a fully comprehensive policy, and instead of paying for your damaged bike to be repaired, they sent you the way of a third-party company! This is a bit naughty, in my opinion, as that is why you pay for a comprehensive policy, i.e., so your insurer will pay out. This third-party company has then sought to charge you to store the bike at their yard while it is inspected, when it could have remained at your home address at no cost. I would also query why it had to remain at the yard for six weeks. Put bluntly, this is good for your insurer (as they haven’t had to pay for bike damage) and the third-party company (as they now have a £900 bill) – but not for you.
I don’t form the opinion that the local authority will want to settle that aspect of your claim on the basis it hasn’t been properly incurred. If, at trial, the other side were to ask the question ‘can you store your bike for free?’ and you respond ‘yes’, a judge is going to be slow to order the local authority pay for the credit storage.
The issue is whether the third-party company then sues you for the £900 bill as you signed the agreement, it becomes a purely contractual claim, which they will likely win. Therefore, if the worst happens, think twice about who is helping you in your claim and why. Not everyone is looking out for your best interests.
Fast Bikes November 2022