Bike damaged by road gritting

I was riding my Vespa 125 along an A-road in Derbyshire the other evening travelling behind a truck. I kept a safe distance behind as I usually would. Suddenly orange/yellow lights lit up and grit started chucking out from the back of it. It turns out it was a council lorry out gritting and I was in the eye of a ‘grit storm’. It was only luck that I didn’t come off as I was not expecting it and panicked. When I got back to my garage, still shaking from the near miss, I saw that the paintwork on the front of the bike was damaged and needs restorative work. Can I claim the cost from the council?
Jonno, email

Answer

I would contact the council in writing and explain what happened. I suggest you request their gritting records from the evening in question to confirm that one of their vehicles was in the location at the time. Whether or not you will succeed in claiming the cosmetic repair work is an interesting conundrum. On one hand there is the public policy argument that they are out to grit in the interests of road user safety. On the other hand, if it had used the lights as an early warning and there had been an interval before it started spraying grit you would have presumably had time to react and drop back so the bike would not have sustained the damage. I think you need to argue that they should have done this, or started spraying when they first set off, otherwise other road users have no chance to avoid the sudden onslaught.

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