I was riding my scooter with 3 other friends. We came over a bridge and hit some oil or liquid on the road and all came off. The police have found a company down the road who may have caused it. What should we do?

Oil on the road

Always seek expert legal advice if you crash due to a substance on the road surface

This type of accident is unfortunately becoming all too common. The small wheels on scooters are very vulnerable to defective road surfaces and liquids on the carriageway and the consequences can be catastrophic.

Invariably, the spilt liquid is diesel caused by drivers negligently overfilling their tanks or not correctly tightening the fuel cap. Quite often the first roundabout they then encounter is left with at band of shiny diesel right on the line that a scooter would take.

It’s obviously difficult for the police to trace a vehicle that has spilled diesel unless there are witnesses but in this case, the police have been able to and I believe this was down to local knowledge.

Now that the culprit has been identified there should be a very good case against the company concerned. Obviously one of their vehicles has an oil based product incorrectly carried, causing a spill as it went over the bridge. This suggests that an employee of the company was negligent and thus the company will be vicariously liable for the actions of that employee. This just means that they have to pick up responsibility for his actions.

In a case such as this, the lawyers will not have to do much to prove the case other than establish the fact that oil from the company was on the carriageway and let that be enough to convince the judge. They would (probably) not have to go on and prove that a particular employee left the lid off etc.

If the culprit had not been traced, the rider would have a claim against the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) but only for compensation for injuries. This would at least provide some recompense but if the bike was only insured on a third party basis then the rider would still be out of pocket.

So in conclusion, thanks to the police tracing the source of the problem – all four cases look like having excellent prospects of success against the company for recovery of all losses. This would include damage to the scooters, any financial loss and compensation for any injuries caused.

Top Tips

    1. If you fall due to the road surface or anything on it call the police as they have a duty to record their evidence and this can be obtained later. They may also find the person responsible.
    2. Take photos from different angles and distances and with a ruler measuring the depth of any defect if possible. If over 2 inches deep think about claiming.
    3. If you come off and can’t explain why, look carefully back down the road for things like over-painted lines, shiny or worn out tarmac, smooth manhole or grid covers or any liquids on the road.
    4. Get details of any witnesses. Even people who live nearby can help if they know the defect has been there for a while and the council have not repaired or inspected recently.