Upstand in carriageway presents a hazard for motorcyclist

On 22 August 2018, at around 8.45pm, Peter was riding his BMW R1200 GS motorcycle on the A811 Stirling Road between Gartocharn and Balloch.

Determined to improve his riding skills, he was out for an observed ride as part of his IAM Advanced Rider Training. As Peter approached Reid and Robertson Agricultural Stores, he observed work vans partially parked on his side of the carriageway. He also noticed a sign indicating that the road would be closed between 9pm and 6am. There were no other signs present on his approach, it wasn’t yet 9pm and the road was open. To pass the vans, Peter altered his road positioning so that his bike was well onto the opposing carriageway. However, unknown to him, the opposing carriageway had been “planed” by the roads’ authority contractors.

When trying to rejoin his own carriageway, Peter hit the “raised edge” created by the planed-out section of road. He lost control of his motorcycle and fell, sustaining injury.

Emergency services attended the scene and Peter was taken to the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley where he was diagnosed with a combination of a displaced clavicle fracture on the left side, fractures to nine ribs on the left side of his chest and a very nasty fracture to his right wrist.

Whilst recovering from his injuries and worried about being unable to work, Peter contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland for help and we immediately went into action. We intimated a claim to West Dunbartonshire Council roads authority as well as their subcontractors. Both refused to accept responsibility saying it was clear that road work repairs were being carried out and there had been adequate signage in place.

Undeterred, we pushed on and funded a court action for Peter, raising a case for him in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court.

In Peter’s case, the key area of contention was over road signage and the positioning of work vans. West Dunbartonshire Council and their contractors had failed to ensure that road signage was placed in advance of the works to warn road users of the upstand between the carriageway. In advance of the final court hearing date, we called the defenders to a pre-trial meeting. Thankfully, sense prevailed with the Council and their contractors accepting responsibility. The case was settled just weeks before the final hearing in Peter’s favour.

As motorcyclists ourselves, we know of the hazard that an upstand can present when travelling on a motorcycle, particularly in fading light. Adequate signage can help manage that risk and there is extensive guidance for Roads Authorities about the types of signage that should be put out and at what distance. Sadly, we are all too familiar with defenders who refuse to hold their hands up and offer fair settlement when they are in error. We are always willing to take on cases where motorcyclists have been injured through no fault of their own; where defenders are unwilling to accept fault, we will help you take them to court.

Cases such as this can be fraught with difficulty when it comes to proving the size of any upstand or what signage has been put in place to warn road users. Thankfully, Peter was able to provide us with images of the upstand and witnesses who could verify that adequate signage had not been in place. If you are involved in an upstand accident, it is very helpful if you are able to provide images or footage of any upstands and whether signage is, or is not, in place.