Falkirk Motorcycle Incident

Raymond who is an experienced motorcyclist from Falkirk, was out for an evening run on his Suzuki GSXR1000 on 8th May 2018.

He was travelling on the B803 approaching Slamannan. Entering a left-hand bend, he adopted his normal line leaning his GSXR into the turn. As he did so, he suddenly felt his rear wheel slip and the backend of his motorcycle step out before regaining grip on the tarmac, putting him into a tank slapper. At this section of the road, the B803 is lined with trees on either side, so Raymond decided to throw down his motorcycle. The bike ended up colliding with a tree whilst he fell directly onto the road landing on his left shoulder.

Once Raymond was able to stand up, he walked back to the corner where he had come off and saw two patches of gravel. He took photos of them on his phone. They were approximately 18” wide and appeared to be thick with gravel. At the time of the incident, Raymond was employed as an experienced heavy plant operator and so he was able to deduce that the local Council had recently repaired two potholes on this particular corner using jet patching.

Jet patching (also known velocity patching) is a technique where small defects can be quickly repaired using a process similar to surface dressing. A lorry-based machine, operated using a nozzle, blows the road debris clear and then a sticky bond is sprayed into the defect followed by a mixture of bitumen and gravel. The affected area ought to then be compacted and loose gravel swept or blown away. Often, after the temporary repairs are carried out, this final step in the process of blowing or sweeping away the excess gravel, is not completed and the patches are simply left in situ.

When Raymond contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland and sent in the images he had taken of the temporary repairs, it was clear that the Council had performed ineffective repairs of the road defects leaving a build-up of gravel across the roadway directly on the line a motorcyclist would take through the corner.

We intimated Raymond’s claim directly against Falkirk Council who initially denied liability advising that they had inspected the road on the 3rd of April 2018 and that repairs had been carried out on the 3rd of May 2018 with skid risk warning signage erected on site. On inspection of the road on the 14th of May 2018, the skid risk sign was still visible, however there was no excess gravel at the location.

What the investigations revealed

As part of the investigations into Raymond’s claim, Motorcycle Law Scotland uncovered information which showed that:

  1. Falkirk Council knew that there were various actionable defects along the B803 and had taken steps to repair these.
  2. In doing so, they had used employed jet patching to repair the defect.
  3. Jet patching requires adequate sweeping to be carried out as the residual material from the jet patching process can be spread across the roadway.
  4. Adequate sweeping had not been carried out and the repairs were not of a suitable standard. In repairing the potholes by using jet patching, Falkirk Council knew or ought to have known the surface presented a hazard to road users, especially motorcyclists, and did not take steps to address this.
  5. After jet patching, a skid risk sign had been erected but only for traffic travelling west on the B803. Road users travelling east had been given no warning of the skid risk present on the road.

We also spoke to a number of independent witnesses who could speak as to how long the gravel had been present on the road together with various dimensions of the gravel patch itself. These witness testimonies proved crucial in obtaining admission of liability from the Council after over six months of evidence gathering and negotiation.

Liability was eventually admitted on behalf of the Council in November 2019 and that stage we were able to swiftly conclude Raymond’s case and obtain the compensation he deserved.

Investigating all aspects of a claim is key

This case demonstrates the importance of investigating all aspects of any claim to ensure that no stone remains unturned in the pursuit of the truth.

Motorcycle Law Scotland carried out significant investigations at an early stage and were able to categorically support Raymond in his claim for compensation and ensure that the Council admitted liability when faced with an avalanche of evidence against them. Raymond’s case also demonstrates the importance of instructing a specialist motorcyclist solicitor who has previously dealt with cases including jet patching and road defects and understands how to progress a successful argument in these tricky and difficult cases.