Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations

The above quote is often used by bikers to celebrate getting out on the open road and paints a wonderful image, but even the bikers in our team at Harold Stock & Co appreciate that the road is not often the problem; it’s the other road users that can make the destination less attractive.

Whilst bikers are not generally known to complain about the odd knock and the occasional bruise or graze, unfortunately, the shocking figures for last year show that more than 450 bikers ended up in our local hospitals.  The NHS statistics have 75 going to Salford Royal Hospital (where they have a specialist head injury unit), 76 to hospitals under the Pennine Acute Hospital NHS Trust banner, 74 to central Manchester, 68 to south Manchester, 53 to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh, 39 to hospitals in Bolton, 39 to Stockport and 25 to Tameside and Glossop Trust. 

Although the figures have dropped a bit in the wake of the “Think Bike” campaigns, this may be because more motor cyclists are taking advanced riding tests to protect themselves from others who might not see them on the road, or might not appreciate that braking on a motorbike does not happen quite as it does in a car.

On top of the 319 bikers killed, there are over 5,500 seriously injured and over 13,000 who suffer minor injuries.  We feel that something must be done about these figures.  Whilst in the 40 years that Harold Stock & Co have been helping local people with all aspects of the law, our serious injury team appreciates that bikers are fed up with car drivers suggesting that they “came from nowhere” and were “riding like a bat out of hell”.  In the many claims that we have dealt with, some of which have been rejected by other less specialist teams, the patterns repeat themselves and there are suggestions that bikers should stick to the side of the road, should have braked more quickly (without the inevitable stoppie or lowside) or should not be filtering (which is legal). Despite the fact that you have dipped headlights, a loud can and a helmet brighter than Rossi’s, to make sure you are as visible as possible. 

We are used to working out speeds of impact, preparing site line diagrams, organising reconstructions and gathering the evidence necessary to prove that a collision has been caused by the fault of another, rather than by the biker whose journey has taken him or her to hospital, rather than to the beautiful destination that was anticipated when they started their ride out.

Unfortunately, our local papers are full of motor cyclists being left with life changing injuries when collisions have occurred, even on the less rural roads.  We can’t prevent accidents happening but, in many cases, the term accident is misleading.  If there is an element of fault on the part of the other driver, this is something we will investigate and discuss with you.

We have recently represented a biker who was unfortunate enough to suffer a leg amputation whilst riding to work on our local roads.  As is often the case, he was driving along the main road and the car driver came out of a side road.  Responsibility was initially disputed but, with engineering evidence and detailed witness statements, a large payment on account was obtained to get our client the adapted accommodation that he needed, the prosthetics assistance and the psychological help that allowed him to maintain contact with his family and his young children and to get back to a different, but as fulfilling a life, as before the crash.  His final settlement was a substantial seven figure sum that, with appropriate financial advice, should secure his future.  Whether he or other family members won the argument about spending part of the settlement on a new bike, and adapted prosthetics to allow him to ride again is still unclear! 

If you or a family member has been unfortunate enough to have seen the darker side of motorbike riding, whether you have Solicitors or not, there is nothing lost by giving us a call for a chat.

Kirsty Dunn – Chartered Legal Executive

John Byrne – Accounts Manager & Treasurer of the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD)

 



Cut whiplash injuries with the headrest test

Whiplash injuries and claims can be avoided if drivers and passengers do a simple test this Injury Prevention Day (15 August).

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) with support from motoring safety experts Thatcham Research, is urging car users to protect themselves by making sure their headrests are in the correct position.

 “Half of all car crashes in England result in a whiplash injury and some of these could be avoided, along with the resulting compensation claims,” said APIL’s president Brett Dixon. APIL is a not-for-profit organisation which campaigns to prevent needless injuries.

“Your headrest can’t do its job if you haven’t adjusted it to fit you,” said Brett. “It’s like leaving the batteries out of a smoke detector. “To test your headrest is very simple,” Brett explained. “Make sure it is as close to the back of your head as possible, ideally touching. The top of the headrest should also be as high as the top of your head. Place your hand on top of your head to check.

“It is easy to forget, but we hope drivers will make a point of doing the headrest test this Injury Prevention Day,” said Brett.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research said: “Whiplash is the most common injury in car accidents, and the correct position of the seat’s head restraint is the key factor in protecting people from these types of injuries. We’d recommend that the next time you get in your car, check that the headrest is positioned as high as the top of the head. Where possible, it should also be tilted as close to the back of the head as possible. Touching the head is best. In cars where the head restraint is not adjustable, making the seat more upright can help.

“It’s also really important to remember that whiplash can occur in the back seat as well. So remember to adjust for each rear occupant as well and  check this for every journey. No one passenger is the same and it needs to be tailored to fit them on every journey.”

If you have been injured in a car accident or any other accident and would like advice from a professional yet approachable lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact our specialists, Debra Woolfson or Kirsty Dunn.

 

Meet our Personal Injury Team


Kirsty Dunn image

Kirsty Dunn

Chartered Legal Executive

T: 01457 835597

kmd@haroldstock.com

Debra Woolfson image

Debra Woolfson

Director

T: 0161 456 5012

dw@haroldstock.com


Government U-turn on Personal Injury Reforms

car crash

You may have heard that over the past year the government proposed to make further reforms to personal injury claims. One of these reforms was to effectively remove the right for people to claim for low value whiplash claims in an attempt to reduce the number of fraudulent claims being made for low value injuries and enable insurance companies to pass on savings made from not having to pay out on these low value and potentially fraudulent cases.

In a dramatic U-turn, the government has set aside its further plan to make reforms. Why? It has become apparent that previous reforms which slashed legal costs payable for all types of personal injury claims under £25,000, involved huge savings for insurance companies who do not appear to have passed on the savings to customers by reducing premiums. Figures obtained from the Association of British Insurers show that insurance claims in 2015 totaled £5.8 billion compared to £8.3 billion in 2010. Have those savings been used to reduce insurance premiums? It would appear not as the average premium has risen by over 10% Shocking news, we know!

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and The Law Society have continued to fight, believing there should be access to justice for all and they also continue to call to the government for a ban on cold calling and spam texting in relation to personal injury claims. We would welcome this ban. As Solicitors, we have rules which prevent us from cold calling and yet, as a profession we are the ones who bear the brunt of the criticism for the unscrupulous methods employed by other companies.