£1.025 million for widow of motorcyclist fatally injured by untraced driver’s negligence
Mr Y, born in 1960, was involved in a road traffic accident on 8 September 2008, when he
sustained injuries which led to his death on 15 September 2008. His widow, Mrs X, instructed
MIB expert Andrew Campbell of Bikelawyer Motorcycle Accident Solicitors to investigate a
claim for compensation. On Mrs X’s behalf Bikelawyer made an application for an award
under the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement 2003 on the basis that Mr X’s accident had been
caused or contributed to by the negligence of an untraced driver.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) rejected the claim on the basis there was no evidence to support the negligence of an untraced driver.
On the advice of Bikelawyer (and counsel Mr Richard Furniss of 42 Bedford Row) Mrs X appealed to an Arbitrator (one of a panel of QCs) on the basis that the MIB was wrong in refusing to make an award. The Arbitrator agreed with the submissions of Bikelawyer and Counsel and liability was apportioned 100% in favour of the Claimant. Following a detailed evaluation of the quantum evidence including the use of forensic accountancy and actuary evidence settlement negotiations took place. The Claimant ultimately accepted a settlement of £1,025,000.
Mr Y lost control of his motorcycle, clipped the nearside kerb, and collided with a bollard on the
pavement. He struck his chest on the bollard. He broke ribs, and had torn an artery. However, no-one realised at first that he had suffered a life threatening injury. When it became apparent that his artery was torn, it was stented, but despite the surgery, his condition deteriorated, and he died one week after the accident.
My Y was travelling at around 30 miles per hour on his motorbike when a car changed lanes
into his path. As he swerved to avoid a collision his bike slid, he clipped the kerb, he came
off the bike and his chest struck a metal bollard on the side of the road. Mr Y reported in
hospital that the untraced driver (who is assumed to have been oblivious to what went on
behind him) simply didn’t see him. No independent witness corroborated the involvement of
another driver. However, all the witnesses say that Mr Y came to their attention only
after he was in difficulties - and therefore none of them would have seen the driver swerve
towards him and cause those difficulties.
The two important issues relevant to liability were:
(a) Was Mr Y’s account, given consistently to the paramedic, to the doctors, to the police and to his wife, likely to be accurate?
(b) If so, was the untraced driver negligent when he or she veered towards Mr Y and caused him to lose control of his motorcycle?
The Arbitrator found both issues in favour of the Claimant agreeing with the following arguments:
Mr Y was probably proceeding, lawfully and within or at the speed limit, in the middle of his
lane. Even if he was filtering, that is lawful and indeed expected of motorcyclists.
It was to be expected that motorcycles would be riding on the busy London road in the rush hour. The accident was caused because the untraced motorist “changed lanes”. Wherever he was, Mr Y was established on the road and was therefore there to be seen. The untraced driver cannot have looked carefully enough before veering to the left and cannot have veered to the left appropriately slowly and carefully. It is noteworthy that one witness looked in her nearside mirror (which is how she saw Mr Y, though after he had lost control).
Consequently, the untraced driver was negligent.
Quantum was agreed on the following basis:
i. General Damages £10,000.00
ii. Funeral Expenses £3,527.50
iii. Bereavement Award £11,800.00
iv. Probate £40.00
v. Travel expenses £100.00
vi. Financial Dependency £744,082.50
vii. Pension Loss £200,000.00
viii. Services Dependency £45,450.00
ix. Loss of paternal support £10,000 (one son)