Bathgate motorcycle collision with no witnesses

Motorcycling collision on a right-hand bend

On 17 June 2018 at around 2pm Steven was riding his Yamaha MT10 motorcycle home after being out with friends. He was travelling west on Drumcross Road towards Bathgate, West Lothian. Drumcross Road is a narrow country road that is undivided. It is subject to 60mph.

As Steven approached a right-hand bend, he applied his brakes and dropped down into 4th gear to reduce his speed. He adopted a position approximately two feet from the nearside verge in order to extend his field of vision. He held that position through the bend but was confronted with a Renault Clio travelling in the opposite direction running wide on the corner. To avoid a head-on collision, Steven had no option but to take his motorcycle even further to the left. In so doing, he had no option but to mount the grass verge. He was thrown from his motorcycle, landing heavily on the road.
Drumcross Road, Bathgate. Motorcycle collision
While Steven lay injured on the road, the young driver of the Clio got out of his vehicle and started shouting at Steven, blaming him for the collision. The driver seemed oblivious to Steven’s pain and discomfort.

Steven was taken by ambulance to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where he was treated for a severe injury to his right knee. He was required to wear a knee brace and use crutches for twelve weeks.

Whilst recovering from injuries and confined to home, Steven contacted Motorcycle Law Scotland. We arranged to see him at home as we know that often our clients can’t come to us so we will always go to them. Steven was in a lot of discomfort. He was unable to work and had to rely on the support of his wife.

It was immediately clear that Steven would make a good witness. He gave a clear and reliable account of the collision. His road position entering a right-hand bend would take him to the left to extend his vision. He had no reason to be in the middle of the road. On the other hand, a driver approaching a left-hand bend, possibly too quickly would have reason to take the bend wide.

Satisfied that Steven’s version of events would be accepted in Court, we intimated a claim directly to the driver’s insurers. It didn’t come as any surprise that they denied liability. At the accident scene, the driver had blamed Steven, so why would he tell his insurer anything different. The insurers accused Steven of holding a racing line as he manoeuvred around the bend at excessive speed i.e. the shortest route around the bend. There were no witnesses to the incident. The insurers also stated that their driver had pulled to the left and onto the grass verge to avoid a collision.

Picking up on that vital clue, we asked the Police Officers in attendance at the scene whether there had been any evidence of grass/mud on the Clio or marks consistent with it having mounted the verge. There were none.

With liability firmly denied and no independent witnesses, we still pushed on and provided Steven with full financial backing to raise a Court Action. This meant that if the case were to be lost, Steven would not pay a penny as Motorcycle Law Scotland had taken on the risk.

Once the Action was in Court, defences were lodged and again liability was firmly denied. We knew the driver to be “hot-headed” as at the accident scene he had sworn at Steven and hadn’t seemed to be concerned that he was badly injured. We also knew the driver had told his insurers that he had to mount the grass verge, but we knew from Police Officers in attendance that there had been no evidence of that.

How were we going to win?

That’s where our experience counts. The suggestion of a “racing line” was an intended defence and so we had to concentrate our efforts on rebutting that defence. We enlisted the help of an experienced motorcycle trainer who had been responsible for training Police motorcyclists. Potential lines into a right-hand bend

We went through every possible line that could be taken into that bend. We matched that with the evidence from Steven that he had taken his motorcycle into the nearside verge and the evidence of the attending Police officers. We felt confident that Steven’s version of events would be accepted.

One month before the case was due in Court, a Pre-Trial meeting took place. This is a meeting between parties to an action and its purpose is to explore settlement or push on with the litigation.
It was at this meeting, the defenders finally offered to settle Steven’s case.

Why wait so long?

Often, in a case where there are no witnesses, insurers will take a chance. Knowing the financial pressures, they will push a pursuer to prove their case. We knew from the ‘Get Go’ that the driver had been aggressive at the scene. That would certainly not have been favourable for the defenders in Court as often those who are prone to aggression don’t do well under cross examination.

The advantage we have is that we can provide an expert legal service from experienced motorcycling lawyers. We know what to look for. We know how to negotiate bends as we are motorcyclists and we know that detailed investigations will lead to the correct result because we are experienced lawyers.

It’s about passion and understanding. We believe that sets us apart. If we think there is a 50% prospect of success, we will fight a case and even pay the costs if we lose. This gives injured motorcyclists access to justice at no financial risk.

Steven was delighted with the end result saying,

“I can’t thank the team at MLS enough for all their support throughout this whole thing. I’m so pleased that it’s over and done with and I can finally put it to rest. You’ve no idea what a weight I feel has been lifted from me. Thank you again.”

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