Case Law on Motorcycle Accident Claims

Anna H

I’ve worked in the industry for a number of years and couldn’t count the number of motorcycle claims I’ve dealt with. You can almost always expect two things when a new motorcycle claim lands on your desk. Firstly the injuries are going to be more than “whiplash” – riders have very little protection and once an accident happens they tend to come off far worse than if they had been in a car. Second, if a car was involved in the accident the driver will almost always deny the accident was their fault.

I’ve successfully represented countless motorcycle riders over the years in all kinds of circumstances but the one that crops up again and again is the rider that is overtaking a queue of stationery traffic when a car pulls out and bang, the accident happens.

These claims all come down to the same principles and ultimately I can tell you – fairly accurately – how that claim is going to go. We will look to case law, previous cases that have been heard in the Courts with similar circumstances. This case law allows us to predict what would happen in the Court room if our client’s case gets that far.

So let’s take a look at some of that case law (there is of course more out there but these are the big hitters so to speak), what have the courts said about these cases? Remember that no two cases are identical and there are often subtle facts that need to be taken into account.

Woodham v Turner 2012

This case involved a coach that was turning right onto a main road from a side road through a line of stationary traffic. A motorcyclist who was flitering past the lane of stationery traffic was in an accident with the coach as the coach pulled out to turn right. The Court held that each driver was 50% at fault for the accident.

Powell v Moody 1996

The circumstances in this case were remarkably similar to those in Woodham v Turner although the Court held the motorcycle to be 80% to blame and the car (that was pulling out of the side road) only 20%. This is a much older case that Woodham v Turner – a sign that the Courts are becoming more sympathetic to riders perhaps?

Jones v Lawton 2013

This case again involves a motorcyclist filtering down the outside of a lane of stationery traffic. In this case the car is on the bikes right intending to turn right to join the road that the bike is on, travelling in the same direction. The car doesn’t see the bike and hits him as he pulls out (the stationery traffic having left a gap for him to do so). The car driver was 2/3 to blame and the bike 1/3.