30 April 2015

Young Motorcyclist wins substantial damages

Young Motorcyclist wins substantial damages

Following a case heard in the Court of Session, Judge Lord Uist ruled that a young motorcyclist should be compensated for an accident that left him with his left leg amputated.

Adam Wagner (23) was seriously injured in a collision when a milk tanker reversed across the carriageway late at night in a manoeuvre which the Judge described as ‘intrinsically dangerous’. While responsibility for the collision was ultimately found to fall on the practices of the driver’s employers, ARLA Foods UK and Adam, the Judge’s decision will ensure that Adam receives a six figures sum in damages.

In his summing up, however, Lord Uist denied Adam the full compensation which would have allowed him to purchase a state-of-the-art prosthetic.

Solicitors for Adam had argued that the young man, who wants to train as a mechanic, deserved to have the chance to lead a full life.

The judge will issue a subsequent note on the full value of the damages.

Adam Wagner was 17 years old when he lost his left leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident in 2009.

He was returning home from work on unlit rural roads, having finished his shift at the Gretna Services Station at around 11pm. He was on his 125cc motorbike with L plates attached. His Uncle, also a motorcyclist, was following him.

Ahead he saw the lights of a lorry on the opposite side of the road. He continued at 55 mph believing the lorry was slow moving on the opposite carriageway.
Milk tanker viewed from a distance
There was nothing to alert Adam to the fact that the lorry was an articulated milk tanker and whilst the cab section was on the opposite side of the road the trailer section was diagonally across his path. The lorry was reversing into a farm entrance to collect milk. It was only when Adam’s headlight illuminated the trailer section that he and his Uncle realised there was a trailer blocking their path.Milk tanker with trailerAdam swerved to his left but hit the rear offside wheel of the trailer. His Uncle who had a little more time to react also swerved, hit the kerb and came off his motorcycle.

Since the crash, Adam has never given up. He found new work that suited his disability and went on to pass his motorcycle test. He gives motivational talks to fellow amputees in his local area and has now started college to fulfil his ambition to be a motorcycle mechanic. He works night shift to help fund his studies.

Adam was referred to a Law firm by his insurers to pursue a claim for compensation. The lorry driver’s insurance company denied liability and after almost three years Adam’s appointed Lawyer recommended that he accept an offer of £9,000 to enable him to have a bathroom adapted to suit his disability. Adam refused and the Lawyers turned his case down advising that the prospects of success in any Court Action where poor and they could not continue to back him.

For Adam, however, this was a life-changing incident. There was nothing to suggest that the trailer was in his path until it was too late. The lorry simply had to pull forward to avoid the accident. At that time of night, the driver had to be aware of the dangers of his manoeuvre and he and his insurance company should shoulder a greater responsibility.

Adam went to a specialist lawyer who understood the dynamics of riding a motorcycle on Scotland’s roads and was ready to fight on his behalf. There had to be an explanation as to why two motorcyclists hadn’t seen the trailer despite the driver’s insurance company insisting the trailer was there to be seen. An action was raised in the Court of Session on Adam’s behalf seeking compensation for his horrific injuries. It was argued the driver should have done more to alert the motorcyclists of his presence; he should not have commenced his manoeuvre and his employer should have carried out a risk assessment.

It was also argued that that Adam should be given a better chance in his young life with adequate compensation and a state-of-the-art prosthetic to allow him proper mobility to embark upon a career as a motorcycle mechanic.

Brenda Mitchell, of Motorcycle Law Scotland, who acted for Adam Wagner, said:

“This is a victory for Adam, although I am disappointed that the Judge did not award the full valuation which would have given Adam the state of the art prosthetic that we think he deserves and which would have given him the mobility he really needs to pursue a career as a motorcycle mechanic.”


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