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Title: Country lane collision

Date: 31 March 2016

Question

I had an off in a near collision with a recovery vehicle on a single lane country road. There was one lane going each way with a double white line in the middle. The road was a typical bendy road with a 60mph limit I think. I came round a long bend and the van was a bit over my side of the white line. I tried to avoid him but lost control. That sent me flying off but luckily I was not too badly hurt. Unbelievably the recovery company’s insurer is blaming me and won’t pay out! What can I do?

Chris Roberts, by e-mail

Answer

You don’t say at what speed you and the other driver were travelling. I shall assume that neither of you was exceeding the speed limit. The starting point is that one should not cross the double white line unless it is safe to do so and is necessary for a specific purpose, for example access or passing a horse or bicycle travelling at less than 10mph. The recovery driver was over the line so one would think that he is always going to be held liable in such circumstances, especially if you stayed on your side of the white line. However, this is not always the case. The Court of Appeal decision in Whiteford –v- Kubas UAB appears to be relevant although the width of the vehicle may be the distinguishing factor. It was harsh on the biker but nonetheless is binding case law on lower courts on the same facts.

In that case it was accepted that the truck was over the white line and that the motorcycle was close to but not touching his side of the white line. The truck was a wide one. In order to drive along the road without hitting the nearside verge he had to be slightly over the line. This was accepted by the Court of Appeal as being reasonable as any closer to the verge and that could have led to an accident from colliding with the verge. The court found the motorcycle’s position on the road to be the causative factor of the accident and held that the biker should have been closer to the middle of his own lane in which case the accident would not have happened. The case went completely against the biker. You need to carefully consider the full judgment of the case to try and distinguish it from your case and as I say the width of the recovery vehicle should be investigated.

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