Not guilty but still negligent in Civil claim

An experienced motorcyclist was heading north on A703 Peebles to Edinburgh Road. As he approached a junction with Crossburn Farm Road to his nearside, he noticed a car stationary on the A703 on the opposing carriageway indicating to turn right.

As the motorcyclist had right of way, he continued on. The south bound carriageway had a filter lane to enable vehicles to remain stationary waiting for north bound vehicles to clear. The motorcyclist’s partner was proceeding ahead and the car driver waited for her to pass.

Unfortunately, and for no apparent reason, the car driver then moved from the filter lane and crossed over the dividing white line into the motorcyclist’s carriageway. In a split second, the motorcyclist took emergency evasive action and swerved to the left. He lost control and fell from his motorcycle.

The only reason for the immediate swerve to the left was to avoid a collision with a car that was attempting to cross into his carriageway.

The motorcyclist sustained fracture injuries to his wrist and contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland for legal advice.

We intimated a claim to the car driver’s insurance company who refused to deal with the claim pending the outcome of any criminal charges against their insured driver.

To recover compensation in Civil Law, we needed to prove, on balance of probability, the driver was negligent. That is a completely different standard to what the Crown has to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the driver was guilty of a criminal offence.

Interestingly, the driver was found “not guilty” of the Criminal Offence partly because the Crown failed to show that the accused's driving had fallen below the standard required by a reasonably competent driver. The Justice of the Peace confirmed that it was an unfortunate accident with unfortunate results.

This was certainly not an unfortunate accident, as the driver had been negligent. We weren’t prepared to wait and therefore raised civil proceedings before we even knew the outcome of the criminal trial. In the Civil case, the driver’s insurance company continued to deny liability. We put them under pressure and lodged productions in support of our client’s position. Eventually, liability was admitted and we proceeded to settle the case at a Pre-Trial meeting just weeks before the case was due to be heard before a Judge.

Our client was delighted with the result.

At Motorcycle Law Scotland, we have acted for numerous motorcyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers. Often drivers will have their plea of “not guilty” upheld in a criminal court but that makes very little difference to a civil claim. In civil law, we simply need to prove on balance of probability a driver has been negligent.