I was involved in what I thought was a straightforward accident. I was riding my bike along a straight 30mph urban road when a car pulled out of a small car park, straight into my path. I was carted off to hospital by ambulance while the police organised recovery for the bike.

The driver of the car has said I was speeding, and the vehicle examiner appointed by her insurers says there’s a linkage missing from my rear brake. This is causing all kinds of problems because the vehicle examiner is saying my braking was compromised by my loss of rear braking.

My solicitors, who were appointed by my insurers, are suggesting I take a 50% reduction on the grounds of my speed (I wasn’t speeding) and my ‘defective’ brakes. While I don’t use my rear brake much, I do in the wet – the weather was dry on the day of the crash – and it was definitely working the last time I used it. Should I be taking a discount?


No. The obvious question is: If you could see the speeding motorcycle, why pull out into its path? The driver of the car had, on her own expert’s analysis, between 180 and 200 metres to see you before she pulled out. According to one fairly neutral witness, he was less than 40 metres away from the collision site and you had passed him when the car started pulling out. We know exactly where he was because he was posting a letter at the time.

The driver says she saw you but your speed surprised her and she pulled out when it was safe to do so, and it was your speed that caused the crash. That cannot be right if the witness is telling the truth – and he has no reason to lie. Even if you were travelling at 40mph and the shortest distance you were in sight was 180 metres, if she pulled out when you were in sight, with no braking on your part, it would have taken you more than 10 seconds to get to the collision site.

The stopping distance at 40mph is 36 metres. Applying the Highway Code at 30mph, we get down to 23 metres. However, we don’t know exactly when this car started pulling out in relation to where you were. All we know is that one witness, whom we can pinpoint to a precise area, says you were closer than 40 metres to the car when it began to pull out. How much closer? Who knows?

We’re left with a classic T-bone accident, plus the strong argument that the driver created a dangerous situation – and if you got your braking slightly wrong, she can’t look to you to extract yourself with perfect riding from the dangerous situation she has created.

The second factor is your defective rear brake. Your bike was clearly damaged on both sides: one from a short slide down the road; the other by being dragged by a winch on to a low-loader recovery vehicle. The rear-brake linkage is vulnerable to drag or sliding damage, and your evidence is clear: the rear brake did work, the bike had an MoT and was reasonably well maintained. The defendant carries close to an impossible burden of proof to show that the brake was defective pre-crash. And she then needs to go on to show how that had any effect on your emergency braking.

I note there were no skid marks left – your bike has no ABS, so it seems to me the most likely inference is that you had so little time to react you either couldn’t brake at all or couldn’t get enough braking effort to lock up either wheel. If you had, say, about 25 metres to react, I’m not surprised that there was no evidence of braking (ie, a skid mark) from either wheel.

There is a small prospect of a judge finding speeding as a factor – I’d give it a one in ten chance. As to the rear brake, I can’t see a judge finding this proven – and it is for the defendant to prove the defective rear brake. I would press on – but with new advisers. Your case is being dealt with by an unqualified person who has started off your case as being worth less than £25,000 – but to me your case is conservatively valued at five times this. Please, get a proper solicitor.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine – October 2023