Our specialist motoring solicitor Andrew Prendergast guides readers through their legal trials and troubles...
QI went out for a blast to the coast on my TZR250 ‘smoker’. I joined a dual carriageway and was cruising at about 65-70mph. I spotted an old Fiesta up ahead doing about 60mph. However, due to the traffic in the outer lane I couldn’t overtake it and the next thing the Fiesta in front just slammed on the brakes hard, coming to a stop. My sphincter reacted accordingly and I got on the brakes. I scrubbed off most of the speed but couldn’t avoid hitting the back of the Fiesta. Turns out the driver was in her 80s and the police said she got muddled up where she was going and just stopped. I’m now left with a scrotum like a space hopper and a bent TZR. My insurer said it’s my fault as I hit the back of her car and that she can claim from me. Is that right?
AShort answer: no. Your insurer is wrong. While the general rule is that if you run into the back of someone else it will be your fault, it’s a popular misconception that it’s always the case. The courts will consider if the driver in front of you behaved ‘unreasonably’. From what you have said she did, as she stopped her Fiesta suddenly or without good reason. While the Highway Code states you should “leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops”, a court will not find you have to be the perfect rider and hold you liable for someone slamming their brakes on and stopping in lane one of a 70mph dual carriageway for no good reason. My advice is you sack off your insurer and get a solicitor who knows what they are doing.
QWhen I left home the sun was shining so I duly put on my lid with my black tinted visor (race-use only). However, I got held up and by the time I was wandering home the sun had long disappeared. I was two turns from home when someone stumbled out of the local pub and into the road. Unfortunately I didn’t see him and knocked him over. Thankfully, he was okay but the impact smashed my fairing. The police decided not to take any action but said they could have done me for driving without due care and attention for riding with a black tinted visor at night. The cheek of it! If the local yokel hadn’t been drunk I wouldn’t have hit him. Can I make a claim?
AYou could bring a claim but you will not win 100% on liability because first and foremost you were riding at night with a black tinted visor only meant for the track. The court will likely find you were partially to blame as you couldn’t see as well as you could have done with a clear and legal visor. In addition, the court may well find that you, as a rider, should have anticipated that drunken people may be stumbling out of the local pub and you should have been on the lookout. That may sound harsh but there is a bucket-load of case law on the point and pedestrians often get something with regards to liability even if they appear to have done something stupid. As an aside, riding with a black tinted visor at night could amount to driving without due care and attention in my view. I say this because your riding did fall ‘below what would be expected of a competent and careful’ rider.