Am I to blame if the other vehicle was on my side?

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I had an off in a near collision with a recovery vehicle on a country road. There was one lane going each way with a double white line. I came round a long bend and the van was a bit over my side of the line. I tried to avoid him but lost control. Unbelievably the recovery company’s insurer is blaming me.

Chris Roberts, email

Answered by Andrew Campbell, Solicitor and author of the MCN Law column.

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 passing a horse. The recovery driver was over the line so one would think 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.  

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 as being reasonable as any closer to the verge and that could have led to an accident from colliding with the verge. The court held that the biker should have been closer to the middle of his own lane and the case went against the biker. You need to 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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