On the night of the accident which took place in 2009, Adam who was 17 at the time, was returning home from work on an unlit rural road, having finished his shift at the Gretna Services Station at around 11pm. He was on his 125cc motorbike with L plates. His Uncle, also a motorcyclist, was following him.
Ahead Adam saw the lights of a lorry on the opposite side of the road. He continued at 55 mph believing the lorry was slow moving on the opposite carriageway.
There was nothing to alert Adam to the fact that the lorry was an articulated milk tanker and whilst the cab section was on the opposite side of the road, the trailer section was diagonally across his path. The lorry was reversing into a farm entrance to collect milk. It was only when Adam’s headlight illuminated the trailer section, that he and his Uncle realised there was a trailer blocking their path.
Adam swerved to his left but hit the rear offside wheel of the trailer. His Uncle, who had a little more time to react also swerved, hit the kerb and came off his motorcycle. Adam was seriously injured and required a below knee amputation.
Adam was referred to a one of Scotland’s biggest PI Law firms by his insurers to pursue a claim for compensation. The lorry driver’s insurance company denied liability and after almost three years Adam’s appointed Lawyer recommended that he accept an offer of £9,000 to enable him to have a bathroom adapted to suit his disability. Adam refused and the Lawyers turned his case down advising that the prospects of success in any Court Action were poor and they could not continue to back him.
With two months to go before his case was time barred, Adam approached Motorcycle Law Scotland and we instantly agreed to help him. There had to be an explanation as to why two motorcyclists hadn’t seen the trailer despite the driver’s insurance company insisting the trailer was there to be seen. An action was raised in the Court of Session on Adam’s behalf seeking compensation for his horrific injuries. It was argued the driver should have done more to alert the motorcyclists of his presence; he should not have commenced his manoeuvre and his employer should have carried out a risk assessment. The collection of milk could have been carried out in daylight or a smaller vehicle, capable of driving in and turning round in the farmyard, should have been allocated to the task.
It was also argued that Adam should be provided with a state-of-the-art prosthetic to allow him proper mobility to embark upon a career as a motorcycle mechanic.
In his decision the Judge found that the position of the milk tanker shortly before the accident was such that Adam and his Uncle were misled into thinking that it was either stationary or moving on the other lane and presented no danger to them; the execution of the reversing manoeuvre by the tanker driver in the hours of darkness was, by its very nature, something which created an unnecessary danger to other vehicles using the road, and that the collection of milk could have been carried out in daylight or by a smaller vehicle which would have been able to execute a normal right turn into the farm road. The Judge agreed Adam should be compensated for his injuries but 40% should be deducted to reflect Adam’s own negligence. The compensation award was agreed at £405,000 but that did not include the disputed cost of provision of prosthetics. On that ground, the Judge accepted the Defenders expert witness criticising Adam’s expert witness for costing up a “Rolls Royce” prosthesis.
Ultimately, this is a victory for Adam, although his entire legal team is disappointed that the Judge did not award the full valuation which would have given Adam the state of the art prosthetic that we think he deserves and which would have given him the mobility he really needs to pursue a career as a motorcycle mechanic. Surely Adam lost his “Rolls Royce” leg when he collided with the tanker that night and anything else is second best?!
However, a win is a win and we are delighted for Adam especially as we have achieved at least 40 times more than what Adam was told to take by his previous lawyer.