Filtering Accident – Insurance Claim Template Letter
For anyone who rides a motorcycle, there will almost inevitably come the time when you’re picking yourself up off the road whilst a car driver utters the words “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you.”
If you regularly filter through traffic (or ‘lane-split’ to you Yanks) as you SHOULD be doing on a bike you’ll have seen that many car drivers do stupid random things even when stuck in traffic.
In my case, it was a car suddenly deciding to do a u-turn directly in front of me…
I remember seeing him pull out very quickly, then I hit the brakes… and then I was sliding down the road on my back.
Of course, the driver claimed he was merely pulling into a farm driveway and so both insurance companies involved insisted it was a 50:50 blame case.
I disagreed, and despite my own insurance company telling me for two years that I couldn’t hope to get more than a 50:50 decision so should settle at that, I carried on fighting, and believe that the following letter was the only thing that won my case completely in my favour. Some of you may find it useful in whole or in part, so feel free to adapt it and send it in to be forwarded to the other party if you find yourself in a similar insurance dispute.
Date Of Incident – xxxxxx
Date of letter – xxxxxxx
Dear Mr Solicitor-Man,
Further to our previous conversations I feel it may make matters clearer by reference to the Highway Code. I shall compare my road position and manoeuvre with that of the other driver. You will see it is abundantly clear that I was doing nothing wrong and that the driver is entirely to blame.
I was slowly overtaking a stationary line of traffic, and had already passed at least ten other stationary vehicles in the line.
I refer you to rule 88 of the Highway Code in the section “Rules for Motorcyclists” which reads as follows:
88: Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.
Remember: Observation – Signal – Manoeuvre
A number of important points arise from this rule.
1. Note the use of the word WHEN as emphasised in the rule. It does not say “Do not overtake traffic queues” (or words to that effect), or suggest that it is an inappropriate course of action to take. It is clearly not a prohibitive instruction (see for example rule 74 which give prohibitive instructions). This clearly envisages that motorcyclists may, in the normal course of riding, overtake traffic queues.
2. I had already checked my mirrors and glanced behind to make sure nothing was overtaking the traffic queue already.
3. It was only the fact that I was progressing relatively slowly, in order to check for pedestrians who may be crossing between the vehicles making the accident much less serious than it would otherwise have been.
Before I move on, it is probably worth referring to the General rules for motorcyclists set out in rules 83 to 88. Again, I have reproduced these below.
83: On all journeys, the rider and pillion passenger on a motorcycle, scooter or moped MUST wear a protective helmet. This does not apply to a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban. Helmets MUST comply with the Regulations and they MUST be fastened securely. Riders and passengers of motor tricycles and quadricycles, also called quadbikes, should also wear a protective helmet. Before each journey check that your helmet visor is clean and in good condition.
[Laws RTA 1988 sects 16 & 17 & MC(PH)R as amended reg 4]
84: It is also advisable to wear eye protectors, which MUST comply with the Regulations. Scratched or poorly fitting eye protectors can limit your view when riding, particularly in bright sunshine and the hours of darkness. Consider wearing ear protection. Strong boots, gloves and suitable clothing may help to protect you if you are involved in a collision.
[Laws RTA sect 18 & MC(EP)R as amended reg 4]
86: Daylight riding. Make yourself as visible as possible from the side as well as the front and rear. You could wear a light or brightly coloured helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips. Dipped headlights, even in good daylight, may also make you more conspicuous. However, be aware that other vehicle drivers may still not have seen you, or judged your distance or speed correctly, especially at junctions.
You will note that:
1. I had complied with rule 83 by wearing protective clothing, which again helped reduce the seriousness of the accident.
2. I had complied with rule 86 by using dipped headlights. I always ride with dipped headlights as it is considered good practice and safer to do so.
Accordingly, the only conclusion which may be drawn from the above is that I was riding my motorcycle safely and as envisaged by the Highway Code. I cannot, therefore, be to blame in any way for the accident.
Mr Xs Circumstances
I now turn to Mr Xs driving manoeuvre.
I shall compare his manoeuvre to two fairly similar manoeuvres; setting off from rest as he was stationary and making a right turn.
Setting Off From Rest
This is governed by rule 159 of the General Rules for Using the Road. This is reproduced below:
159: Before moving off you should
- use all mirrors to check the road is clear
- look round to check the blind spots (the areas you are unable to see in the mirrors)
- signal if necessary before moving out
- look round for a final check
- Move off only when it is safe to do so.
It is quite clear that Mr X failed to undertake all, or more likely any, of the requirements given that the point of impact was the sill of the drivers door.
This is governed by rule 179 of the Road Junction section for Using the Road. This is reproduced below:
The first point to note, however, is that Mr X was not turning right as I approached. He was stationary in a queue of traffic tailing back from a roundabout. Clearly, Mr X does not have the patience to wait for traffic to flow so decided to pull out quickly and aggressively – also stating at the scene when asked if he had seen my headlight that he had not.
Again, however, the emphasis of the first two requirements is on observation and signalling. As set out above, Mr X failed these on both counts.
In addition to this, Mr X’s place of work on this day is approximately one mile in his original direction of travel, with any alternatives from the location of the accident being many times this distance. I do not believe he had any reason, as he claims, to have been turning right into the private driveway of the farm, other than impatience at being made late for work by the stationary traffic on his direct route, and his sole intention was to perform a u-turn and travel back in the opposite direction.
Accordingly, the only verdict which can be reached from the above analysis of Mr Xs manoeuvre is that it was undertaken without sufficient care and attention to myself and other road users.
Mr X was stationary and I took all reasonable care to overtake a stationary vehicle. I checked before doing so, no right indicator on the car, no mirror checks carried out by Mr X, no wheel turns to indicate movement, and the car remained stationary so I proceeded to overtake.
Mr Xs lack of patience to wait in a queue to move clearly made him decide to take a different route. The issue here is he pulled out without mirror checks or signals, demonstrating that he was driving without due care and attention. The fact that other road users in the same queue of traffic had observed my approach is clearly indicative that he was not concentrating on what was going on around him.
Mr X cannot be excused for not making the proper checks – what if I were a pedestrian or pedal cyclist? More substantial injuries could have been caused by his inattention.
The relatively superficial damage to both the car of Mr X, and that sustained to my vehicle as reported by the appointed engineer support that my speed was low enough to demonstrate that I was exercising a high duty of care in my riding, and was unable to avoid the situation caused by Mr X.
As shown above, I have followed the road rules clearly and exactly and am in no way responsible for this accident. If Mr X had made all the checks required as shown above or been paying attention he would have been aware of my presence and not moved until I had passed, in which case this accident would not have occurred.
I trust this is sufficient to pass to his insurers.