Our spe­cial­ist mo­tor­ing so­lic­i­tor An­drew Pren­der­gast guides read­ers through their le­gal tri­als and trou­bles...

Motorcycle Monthly - - White Dalton -

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.

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