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Title: Filtering accident with pedestrian

Date: 23 May 2013

Question

I was riding my Suzuki GSX650 to work when traffic came to a standstill up ahead. There was nothing coming the other way towards me so I filtered past the traffic queue at about 20mph, not too fast in my opinion. Suddenly this guy ran into the road colliding with me and knocking me off. I am generally battered and bruised but more importantly my bike is in need of £1000 worth of repairs. I have witnesses confirming that I could not have done anything and that it was the other guy’s fault but he has told my solicitors that if I carry on with my claim he will counter claim for his more serious injuries. He says he was waved across by the car driver at the front of the queue. Surely he is to blame here, not me!?

Sean Thomas, Halifax

Answer

Filtering is perfectly legal despite what defendant solicitors and third party insurers claim. Recent case law has helpfully discussed filtering speeds (relative to lines of stationary traffic) and apportionment of liability – that is the share of blame attaching to rider and the other person involved when there is a collision. Each case is fact specific so there are no absolute rules but the recent cases suggest if a line of traffic is stationary then a speed of 15mph would be appropriate whereas 20mph may not be. Other factors come into play such as the proximity of a junction (major or minor) which can also impact on the likely finding of contributory negligence.

In your specific case I am not really clear why, if the chap at the front of the queue waved this guy out, you were doing 20mph unless the lights had just changed and you intended to keep on going? However, it seems likely that primary responsibility for the accident rests with the pedestrian. He cannot rely on another road user waving him out. He must satisfy himself that it was safe for him to cross the road and had he looked properly or at all he would have realised you were there and it was not safe for him to dart across the road. Assuming the lights were in your favour you had right of way. I would press on with your claim and not be threatened about a counter claim although be aware there may well be some share of responsibility but I would need to carefully analyse all the evidence before advising further in this respect.

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