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)


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