Today I noticed a recent decision by the Court of Appeal in a motorcycle accident case which has produced what at first glance may seem a surprisingly harsh verdict for the motorcyclist, whilst highlighting the need for solicitors acting for injured claimants to examine the individual facts of each case very carefully.
In Robert Whiteford v Kubas UAB (2012) the court heard that Mr Whiteford had been riding his motorcycle along a single carriageway country lane when his right leg was struck by a lorry travelling in the opposite direction. He suffered serious injury, losing the leg. The court of appeal dismissed Mr Whiteford’s claim for compensation for the injury he received as a result the collision. This was despite the fact that expert evidence agreed that the lorry had been travelling with its front wheels on or slightly over into Mr Whiteford’s side of the road at the time of impact.
The reasoning behind this is based on the very specific circumstances of the collision. The road was narrow and Mr Whiteford conceded that he had been riding close to the white line rather than more to the centre of his side of the road.
The court found that it was reasonable for the lorry driver to give himself a reasonable amount of room and that if he were to attempt to drive any closer to the edge of the road this would have created risks of its own. This together with a finding that a motorcyclist taking a proper line would have been able to pass without colliding with the lorry resulted in the claim being lost.
So a claim which would have initially looked like a clear win for the motorcyclist was actually lost.
What this case tells us is that no two accidents are the same and it provides clear authority that detailed evidence must be obtained and then carefully weighed by the accident solicitor in every case. At Forster Dean we act for injured motorcyclists and therefore follow the outcome of motorbike cases closely. I will be interested to see if Mr Whiteford appeals this decision given that he conceded that he could have ridden more to the centre of the lane. I also wonder whether this type of accident may be viewed differently in future given the increasing push to keep large vehicles away from unsuitable and narrow roads.
If you or a member of your family has been involved in a motor cycle accident or any other type of accident which has resulted in you sustaining injury and would like a free and confidential discussion with one of our specialised Solicitors, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 389 1978 or visit our website at www.forsterdean.co.uk You can also follow us on Twitter (@ForsterDeanLtd) or Forster Dean Solicitors on Facebook.
Matt Cooper LLB (Hons)
Office Manager and Personal Injury Solicitor
Published May 18, 2012