Unmarked resurfacing leads to crash

On 26th April 2018 at around 7pm, Gillian, who is a staff nurse was riding to work on her AJS Modena 125 Scooter. She had left her home address and turned onto Barrangary Road, Bishopton.

Suddenly, the level of road surface changed. She had unwittingly entered a section of road which was being resurfaced and had been planed in preparation. The front wheel of her scooter did not cope with the abrupt change of level. Gillian tried to control her scooter, but her front wheel collided with an exposed drain cover. She was thrown forward and propelled from her scooter onto the tarmac.

The planed out section on Barrangary Road had not been coned off to prevent access. No signs had been placed on approach to warn of the abrupt change in the road surface. No temporary ramps had been created to limit the height differential. The only visible traffic cones had been left stacked at the side of the road serving no purpose whatsoever. The images below are stills taken from a video of Barrangary Road shortly after the incident.

Extent and Impact of injuries 

Gillian attended Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was diagnosed with extensive soft tissue injuries to her left shoulder, wrist, thigh and abrasions to her fingers.

As a result of her injuries, she was unable to return to work as a nurse until early June 2018. She was unable to drive or walk her dog for around four weeks and had to rely upon her husband for assistance. 

Gathering evidence

Whilst Gillian was at home recovering from her injuries, she contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland. We arranged a home visit and then intimated a claim to Balfour Beatty as they were responsible for the resurfacing works on Barrangary Road.

Despite the helpful video taken by Gillian’s quick-thinking husband immediately after the incident, Balfour Beatty denied liability. They maintained that the left-hand lane on Barrangary Road had been closed to traffic and that signs had been in place to warn of the resurfacing works! They also said that employees of Balfour Beatty had been on site until 5.30pm on the day of the incident and that traffic cones had been placed cordoning off the planed-out section of road. They provided a site plan of the resurfacing work and, in particular, where the cones should have been placed. A site plan but no photographs!
It was abundantly clear from the video footage that the cones had not been placed so as to cordon off the dangerous resurfaced section. The only cones visible on the video had been stacked at the side of the road.

We contacted a householder whose property overlooked the roadworks and she confirmed that there had been no signs in place cordoning off the offending section of Barrangary Road at 5.30pm that day and no road signs had been erected either.

Court proceedings

With liability disputed, we raised proceedings in Court against Balfour Beatty.
Astonishingly, Balfour Beatty continued to deny liability despite the overwhelming evidence of their negligence. Just one month before the case was due in court, a pre-trial meeting (PTM) took place and for the first time an offer was made to settle Gillian’s case. The offer was accepted.

Why are Motorcycle Law Scotland different?

It was as if Balfour Beatty just wanted to scare us off. However, we are not intimidated by any large organisation. Our responsibility is to our client and if, when faced with a denial of liability, we think there are good prospects of success in Court, we will take that risk on behalf of our clients. Even, once in Court, Balfour Beatty continued with their spurious defence, producing a site plan in support. However, they seemed to ignore both the video evidence and also the independent witness evidence with no axe to grind.

There is no doubt that the actions of Gillian’s husband assisted us. He too is a motorcyclist and after hearing that his wife had been injured, rushed to the scene. His first concern was clearly for his injured wife, but later he took a video as he was so shocked by the state of the road. That video helped us win the case. Motorcyclists are always acutely aware of road surface changes as they are a danger to us.

As is so often the case, we were faced with defenders who refused to make an offer to settle right up until the final meeting before the court date. Perhaps, they thought we would cave in? We are never intimidated by the size of our opposition as we prepare our cases meticulously and abide by the moto, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ We were prepared but were the defenders? Lodging a site plan but then ignoring video evidence is a schoolboy error.

However, Gillian’s case took just under two and a half years and yet it could have been settled in nine months at one tenth of the cost had Balfour Beatty’s insurers and lawyers been more sensible.