I was overtaking a slow moving vehicle on my motorbike when all of a sudden he performed a u-turn infront of me. I hit his wing and was thrown from my bike which was damaged and I was injured. He has sent a letter claiming from me. What should I do?
This type of accident is very common and we have dealt with it often in our bike accident work. By their very nature, motorcycles and scooters are able to filter past traffic – unfortunately in such slower moving traffic, sometimes car drivers will become bored or impatient and will perform immediate u-turns without thinking about other road users often causing serious accidents.
Insurers of the car driver will often deny liability and, as in this case, the car driver will try to claim against the motorcyclist often saying that the motorcycle was travelling too fast or was on the wrong side of the road.
So how will the courts look at who is to blame for the accident? Well thankfully the Court of Appeal have recently decided two cases that have given a clear answer.
The first case is Davis v Schrogin which involved an American tourist in a line of traffic performing a u-turn directly in front of an overtaking biker doing 40-45 mph on the other side of the road. Liability was contested all the way to trial where a full finding was made against the car driver who then appealled the decision. The Court of Appeal upheld the judges finding giving the biker 100% of his losses.
This case has just been reinforced in the case of Beasley v Alexander where a bike was overtaking slower moving vehicles at 40-50 mph and a car u-turned into his path. This case was upheld on appeal again giving the biker a full recovery of his substantial damages.
Both of these cases show that the overtaking biker now has the upper hand but every case will be so dependent upon evidence. In both cases good evidence was called to show that there was little, if anything, the biker could have done to avoid the accident. Reconstruction evidence helped to establish the speed of the bike within the speed limit but it was the witness evidence, accepted by the judge, that held the bike blameless. In both cases avoiding a finding of contributory negligence converted into saving the injured bikers many tens of thousands of pounds.
So liability on this looks good but as a claim has been intimated against you you must inform your insurers immediately to avoid being in breach of your policy.