I went to my local dealership and arranged a test ride on the latest H2 SX. I was blown away by this thing; it is a supercharged monster! I was riding, I admit, rather exuberantly on my way back to the dealership and I decided to overtake a line of stationary cars; I think there were five or seven cars. One honked at me as I went by. I thought nothing of it and carried on. A few miles later, I was slowing for a roundabout when a chap in a white VW came storming up behind me, constantly sounding his horn. I got a bit annoyed and gave him a hand signal. I am not proud of this, but I then brake-checked him as he was tailgating me, constantly honking his horn. I got some open road and shot off.
A few minutes later the idiot was back and I had enough, I slowed down to get off the bike and have a word when he struck me in the rear, knocking me off the bike. I bounced down the road and by the time I got up, he was standing over me, screaming in my face. The police were called and took a report, but didn’t take any further action. I’ve been left with a £2000 excess for the repair bill to the H2 SX, a few aches and pains, and now have a claim from the insurer from the white VW claiming I braked and caused the accident. I need some help to sort this mess out…
There are three issues here: the accident, your injuries and the broken H2 SX. The meat of the matter is liability. My advice is that you will win 100%, but this is dependent on one single issue – being how did you slow your machine down? While the pre-accident riding wasn’t anything to tell your mum about, is it relevant? I don’t think it is.
The negligence you complain of is the fact that the car driver struck you in the rear. As long as you didn’t slam on the brakes and execute an emergency stop for no reason, which would be negligent in itself, I don’t think the driver can show you did anything wrong, or even contributed to the index accident.
No driver has the right to strike the rear of an obviously slowing vehicle ahead of them. You will have seen the Highway Code update which deals with vulnerable road users; the truth is that the courts have always held this view and a car driver driving into a vulnerable road user, be it a pedestrian or motorcyclist, is really quite frowned upon.
I am surprised that the police didn’t look to prosecute either you or the car driver. This is likely because there wasn’t any corroborating evidence of an offence being committed, if dashcam evidence later appears showing your poor riding, expect a knock on the door from the Old Bill.
The same goes for the car driver; you could still both be prosecuted for careless driving. That wouldn’t necessarily stop any successful civil claim, but your solicitor would need to know about it.
The damaged bike is a contractual issue. The dealership who loaned you the bike got you to sign an agreement. There is a contract in place in which you are liable to pay the excess in the event of damage to the machine. The excess is capped at £2000 and it appears the repairs are going to cost more; this is what it is and I think you will need to pay this. If you go on to win your claim against the VW driver, then you will likely recover this loss as an uninsured loss.
Your injuries, thankfully, are quite minor and the guidelines suggest:
(a) Injuries where there is a complete recovery within seven days – a few hundred pounds to £690.
(b) Injuries where there is a complete recovery within 28 days – £690 to £1370.
There is an arbitrary sum of £1000 set down in law that dictates whether you can use a solicitor on a no-win no-fee basis. If your injuries went on for three to four weeks or more, you will probably be able to instruct a solicitor because the claim would be a ‘fast track’ case and legal costs are recoverable.
If you healed quicker than this, then your injury is worth less than £1000 and you’re unlikely able to instruct a solicitor, as this would be a ‘small claim’, meaning legal costs aren’t recoverable.
You still have a remedy and that is to sue the VW driver in the Small Claims Court. This has been set up to be used by litigants in person. Personally, I don’t agree with this as not everyone is comfortable in issuing and presenting cases to the court, however, these are the rules!
Fast Bikes October 2022