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Title: Country Lane Crash Query

Date: 23 May 2012

Question

I was badly hurt in a collision with a truck 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 sweeping bend and a truck was a bit over my side of the white line. I tried to avoid him but clipped his front corner. That sent me flying off and I ended up with my leg snapped with bone coming through my skin and all sorts of other injuries but the leg is the worst. Unbelievably the truck driver’s insurer is blaming me and won’t pay out! What can I do?

Andrew Edwards, by e-mail

Answer

You don’t say at what speed either you or the truck 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 truck 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. There was a recent Court of Appeal decision (Whiteford –v- Kubas UAB) that in my view 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.

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