Overtaking a tractor

Accident LocusOne of the first clients Brenda Mitchell represented when she set up Motorcycle Law Scotland was a motorcyclist by the name of Barry Horsfield.

On 24th February 2012, Barry was riding his motorcycle heading South from Drumnadrochit on A82.

He was out for a short run in order to ensure his motorcycle was in good working order prior to selling it the next day. After completing a life saver and ensuring it was safe to overtake, Barry commenced an overtaking manoeuvre to pass a slow moving tractor travelling in front of him. However, as he did so, the tractor started to turn right into a farm entrance to his off side turning across Barry’s path. Barry tried to take evasive action but had no time to do so. In an attempt to avoid an impact with the tractor, he “laid his motorcycle down” and pushed the bike away from him. He hit the ground with his right shoulder.  Unfortunately, he suffered a fracture to his left arm and right shoulder.  He required surgery and was in hospital for 10 days.

When Barry first approached Motorcycle Law Scotland, a firm of Solicitors appointed by his insurance company was representing him.  He had never met his solicitor but had received advice to settle the case on a 50/50 split liability.  He was told that if he didn’t agree to a 50% deduction to reflect his own negligence, then the firm of Solicitors was simply not willing to raise an action in Court.  

Unable to understand why he should accept 50% blame for the accident, Barry contacted MLS. We took the case on and completed full investigations including meeting Barry on a number of occasions, going through locus photographs, attending the locus and meeting the reporting police officer in Inverness. Once the case was fully prepared, we did what his previous Solicitor refused to do and raised a Court Action.

The police officer confirmed that he investigated the incident together with his Sergeant. The information made available to them was that the tractor driver and the motorcyclist had been travelling south towards Fort William.  The tractor driver had gone to turn right, had said he had indicated, looked in his mirror and was confronted with a motorcyclist separated from his machine. He also noted that the motorcyclist’s version of events was quite different in that the motorcyclist said he had indicated and commenced his overtake when suddenly the tractor driver moved to turn right without warning or indication into a farm entrance and as a result he lost control. 

The farm entrance was not marked as a junction and could not have been seen by the motorcyclist prior to the commencement of his manoeuvre. We discovered that the tractor had been towing a seed box and the indicators were covered in mud thus making it difficult for any individual following to tell whether indicators were flashing (assuming of course they had been operated).  

In this case, there were two quite distinct versions of events and no independent witnesses. The Court action was eventually settled successfully and in Barry’s favour to take into account all risks.

Barry wrote to us after his action was concluded.  He had this to say:

“Dear Brenda,

I am just writing to thank you and your team for all the hard work and effort in finalising a settlement for my motorcycle claim. 

Throughout this time I have always felt fully confident that you were acting in my best interests.  I have appreciated your honest and open approach during all our conversations.  

As we both know accidents of this nature do happen, it is reassuring to know that there are people like yourself that are prepared to listen and make a professional judgement based on facts and not one that is just governed by financial gain to yourself or your company.  

Once again thank you and all the very best for the future”.

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