Why motorcyclists shouldn't accept "not seen and not heard"

Cars, buses and motorbike traffic in town

Brian Castle, Digby Brown Partner and head of Digby Brown’s specialist motorcycle accident team

As lead partner of our specialist motorbike accident department at Digby Brown, I was intrigued by an article which appeared recently in The Guardian.

The author, a cyclist blogger, examines a number of the assumptions surrounding the wearing of high-visibility clothing, and whether it will always make more riders more visible to other road users. The author also questions whether the wearing of such clothing feeds into the (inaccurate) perception of cycling/motorcycling being an inherently unsafe activity, when of course it is nothing of the sort.

The continued analysis of the issue of rider visibility by an organisation with the stature of the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is welcome. TRL are an organisation my specialist motorcycle team often look to when having to present expert evidence to the Courts in cases involving injured bikers, and their input is often helpful in establishing liability against Third Party drivers who (via their insurers) have held firm to the view that they were blameless following an accident.

The SMIDSY ("sorry mate, I didn't see you") position is something my team see all too frequently - usually accompanied by the opposing insurer add-on that the motorcyclist must have been to blame for riding at excessive speed, as they ‘came out of nowhere’. Thankfully, the specialist motorbike accident team at Digby Brown are well versed in dealing with and disposing of these arguments, which are inevitably built on prejudice - they know;

- a loud exhaust can be the reason witnesses wrongly assume and attribute excessive speed to motorcyclists;

- many bikes are restricted and not capable of the speeds attributed to motorcyclists by Third Party drivers or witnesses;

- that "nowhere" does not exist and that the reality is that the motorcyclist was there to be seen, had the Third Party only looked properly.

The visibility of motorcyclists will continue to be a live issue in many cases. Injured motorcyclists should ensure that they consider employing the services of the experienced specialist motorbike team at Digby Brown, as opposed to another non-specialist solicitor who may not have the inclination (nor the knowledge and experience) to successfully counter these arguments - resulting in claims settling at much less than their true value.

More information

Find out more about our specialist Motorcycle Accident Department here on our website or in this short video about the work of our specialist motorcycle team.

Digby Brown's specialist motorcycle team are on Twitter, Follow them @BikeLawScotland

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