I was knocked from my bike at a slow speed causing damage to my bike and clothing but not me. The insurers of the other person have repaired the bike but are only offering me 50% of the value of my helmet and clothing. Is this right?
This is a very common situation that we come across as we have dealt with thousands of motorcycle, scooter and pedal bike accidents. The real issue is one of betterment but to explain fully we need to start with basics.
In an accident claim you can recover losses from the person at fault, obviously usually paid for by their insurers. The law behind this is the law of negligence and in that area the law will look to put you back in the position you would have been in if the accident hadn’t occurred.
Techincally therefore you would have your ruined clothing and helmet replaced with exactly the same items of the same value, quality and age but this just can’t happen for obvious reasons so this has to be converted into a sum of money. So what sum is appropriate?
Well let’s say the clothing cost £100 and was a few years old. Is it right that the loss is the full replacement value of £100 or should the award of damages reflect the fact that if bought off eBay at that age the true value would be around £30-50 for those items? Generally the court would assess damages at the true value as opposed to the new value thus making a deduction for “betterment”. The theory is that the award would be to allow you to replace the items with similar ones of the same age and value.
So that applies to clothing but what about a helmet? Well as expert bike accident lawyers we have argued this matter before Judges so often that we are now of the firm view that helmet claims should always be for the full amount. Our theory is that a second hand helmet is actually worth nothing because no one would buy such a vital and compulsory piece of equipment secondhand as it may have been dropped. So on the day of the accident the helmet was actually worth nothing so on a strict application of the law, an award of nothing should be made. This would clearly be unfair and adsurd so the actual accepted argument is that as the helmet will need to be replaced with a new item, then it is the cost of that comparable new item that will be awarded.
So in conclusion – always argue and get 100% for the value of any damaged helmet but be prepared to negotiate some deduction for betterment on other items.