Van reverses into motorcyclist

On the 1st of August 2021, George was involved in a collision with a van in Haddington. He was riding his brand-new Africa Twin when he came upon a works van in front of him. George had been travelling behind the van for around 3 miles before both came to a stop at a set of traffic lights just before a bridge over the River Tyne.
A large tractor appeared on the opposite side of the bridge and, thinking he had left insufficient room, the van driver suddenly started to reverse. To George’s horror, the van continued to move towards him. He couldn’t get his motorcycle out of the way in time and was knocked to the ground by the reversing van.
George had to extract himself from underneath his heavy bike but once back on his feet he spoke with the driver who immediately apologised, explaining that he hadn’t seen him. George pointed out that he had been following for quite some time and the driver again apologised. A passing Police car stopped and an officer asked if details were being exchanged before moving on. Although in pain, George was able to ride his motorcycle to Honda Two Wheels in Edinburgh where he arranged for his fiancée to come and collect him.
The following day, George contacted the driver’s company only to be told that they had no notification of the incident. He was then contacted by the company and was asked whether he had been wearing a helmet camera. George didn’t have one and he told them so. The conversation was abruptly ended.
With a damaged motorcycle on his hands as well as painful injuries, George contacted his insurer who referred him to a panel solicitor. On intimation of the claim, the driver’s position changed and astonishingly his insurer accused George of running into the back of the stationary van.

Without any regard to the evidence, the panel solicitor suggested to George that it was a 50/50 case, one word against another and they would see if that would be accepted. Naturally, it wasn’t and at that point the panel solicitor quickly lost interest in the case and gave up on the claim.

George contacted us and we got to work. We took a statement from his fiancée, we contacted the Police and also Two Wheels Edinburgh. We asked for the phone records of George’s report of the accident to the company and the name of the individual who asked if George had a helmet camera. We arranged to have George examined by a medical expert. Armed with all of our evidence, we invited the third-party insurer to settle George’s case. They refused, sticking to their story that it was all George’s fault. Undeterred, we backed George all the way and raised a court action for him.
If you run into the back of a van, most would accept fault. You wouldn’t message your fiancée and call a renowned motorcycle dealer and let them know immediately that a van had reversed into you. You wouldn’t then call the company to report the incident the next day. All the evidence was in George’s favour and so we provided the funds for the inevitable court case.

On raising in Court, liability was again disputed. We called upon the company to send details of any internal or external report of the accident. There was nothing. We were most interested in the call about the helmet camera. It’s clear  the company took the attitude that if you can’t prove it by camera, then it's one word against another and you will fail. But it’s not as simple as that. There was other evidence, known as 'de recenti' reporting. 'De recenti' means “recently“ and in Scots Law it is used to add weight to a statement made soon after an incident. The message to George's fiancée and also the call to Two Wheels would be taken into consideration.

The case never reached the final hearing stage as an offer in settlement was made to George representing the full value of the claim. Justice was served.

We keep on saying this but please don’t trust your insurer with your legal representation. Panel solicitors accept cases in bulk from insurers which means you can become just a number. We have come across panel solicitors failing to investigate and even under-settling claims.

At MLS, we are passionate about representing motorcyclists and do not shy away because the case looks difficult. Preparation of a case is crucial and as the old adage says, 'Fail to prepare, prepare to fail' which is why we never fail to prepare.


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