Like loose gravel, we leave no stone unturned

Bryan was a competent and experienced motorcyclist, but even he was unable to control his bike after encountering a patch of loose gravel whilst riding on a rural road in Strathblane.

Thankfully, following his accident, Bryan was able to get details of people who had witnessed his accident. This allowed us to take statements and build a picture of where the gravel originated from. Additionally, Bryan had captured footage with his front and rear mounted video cameras showing the extent of the gravel on the road.

In addition to the evidence Bryan had ingathered, as part of our investigation into his claim, we called upon the expertise of a civil engineer to provide an opinion on what the roads authority could have done to prevent the build up of gravel on the road when Bryan encountered it.

The work done in this case, which ended up being raised in Court, serves as a keen reminder of the importance of gathering as much evidence and carrying out thorough investigations from the get-go to ensure settlement is reached in the most favorable terms.

Witnesses

Bryan’s collision was fortunately witnessed by a friendly couple who were driving a campervan directly behind him. They provided statements confirming that Bryan had been riding carefully and could not have avoided the gravel.

We still however needed to find out how long the gravel had been on the road and where it had come from.

Immediately after coming off his motorcycle, Bryan had spoken to the driver of a road sweeper who was sweeping the road at the time of his accident. The driver of the sweeper confirmed he was working for a local construction site, and he agreed to clear the gravel from the road which had caused Bryan’s accident.

We therefore assumed that it was likely that the loose gravel on the road had been deposited by vehicles from the nearby construction site and that the construction company may be liable for Bryan’s injuries and losses by failing to clean up after themselves.

However, as our investigation into Bryan’s accident continued, it became clear there was more to circumstances surrounding his accident than first appeared.

The bigger picture – a site visit

Shortly after taking Bryan’s case on, we visited the area of his accident and found that there were several more deposits of loose gravel near the site of his accident, some on the road and others piled near verges. The picture which began to emerge was that the gravel deposits were not in fact from the nearby construction site, but appeared to be from road maintenance works carried out by the Council.

Bryan’s claim for compensation was accordingly intimated to the Council who are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the road in Bryan’s case.

Road maintenance works

However, to successfully prove Bryan’s claim, we would have to positively identify the source of the gravel which caused his accident. To help us do this, we instructed an opinion from a Civil Engineer. The Civil Engineer was unable to say for certain whether the gravel had originated from roadworks carried out but the Council or had been deposited by construction company vehicles. However, the Civil Engineer was able to provide an opinion from Bryan’s video footage that the presence of traffic signs and loose chippings on the road indicated some form of road maintenance works being carried out at the time of Bryan’s collision. 

After identifying that road maintenance works were underway at the time of his accident, the Civil Engineer provided a report commenting the Council’s own policies for road maintenance works. These included the need to erect signage warning of “loose chippings on road ahead”, signs lowering the speed limit to 20pmh, and regular sweeping to avoid a build up of loose gravel on the road surface. It was evident from Bryan’s footage that these policies has not been adhered to and the findings in the Civil Engineer’s report were fundamental in helping us establish negligence on the Council’s part.

Court action

Upon completion of our investigations and in the absence of the Council’s agreement to settle Bryan’s claim, we raised Court Proceedings against them. Fortunately, not long after the Court Action had begun, Solicitors acting for the Council made Bryan a favorable settlement offer, and the case was concluded. Bryan was compensated for his injuries and reimbursed for his motorcycle insurance excess fee in respect of the damage to his bike.

Without Bryan’s quick thinking with obtaining the witness details and the video footage from his motorcycle, we may have been unable to positively prove his case. The burden of proof in a civil claim for compensation is on the person bringing the claim and without the evidence Bryan had ingathered, there simply would not be sufficient evidence to prove fault on the part of the Council.

Bryan’s case is a timely reminder that if you are ever unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident resulting in injury, where possible and if you are able, try and ingather as much information at the scene as possible. You never know when that information might come in handy.