Incident, not Accident

Dear MCN,

As a motorcyclist of more than 40years standing, I am writing to you, to tell my tale of woe and warn all other bikers.

I recently purchased a Kawasaki Z1100 that, whilst being 15 yrs old was immaculate in its condition. I had it checked from head to toe by a local, long standing , family run ‘Kwaka’ dealer. They declared it to be the ‘best example of its kind they had seen. This check over cost me over £800.00

The friend I had bought it from had ordered a screen for it, so, as he lived in the wilds of Kent, we arranged to meet on Saturday [24/05/08] at the ACE CAFÉ for breakfast and to enable me to collect the screen from him.

I arose on said Saturday morning at 7am, spent about an 3 hours titivating the bike [ I wanted to impress my mate] and set off at about 11.30am for North London and the Café.

Traffic on the M1[southbound] was fairly heavy, moving at about 20mph in its usual stop-start fashion. The situation was further compromised by the fact that the hard shoulder was coned off and a car had broken down in the slow lane and was being recovered. The recovery lorry was one of those hydraulic operated flat bed types and was slowly loading the broken down vehicle. As I gradually drew level and started to pass the recovery vehicle, there was a loud BANG and an atomic sized cloud of Hydraulic fluid burst from a hydraulic hose that had ruptured on the lorry.

I was covered from head to foot in hydraulic oil, as was my bike, also the motorway. When I say covered, I mean COVERED. My helmet, leathers, gloves, boots were coated in oil. As for my bike, it looked as though it had been ‘sheep dipped’ in the same liquid.

It covered the whole of my bike from handlebars to the tyres and from headlight to tail light. You might think this was in itself a disaster, but this is where my tale of woe ‘REALLY’ begins.

The recovery driver admitted responsibility and gave all his relevant details on a [his] company headed letter sheet and immediately rang his firm. Being a bank holiday weekend, there was only a dispatcher in the office, but he made a note of what had happened and advised me to ring back on the Tuesday.

I rang my insurance company, who put me through to the legal aid dept [an additional premium to my policy that I took out for safety’s sake]. They informed me that it was an ‘INCEDENT’ not an accident and I was informed by them that as no ACCIDENT had occurred, I was not covered for legal help with any compensation.

The recovery company responsible for the event, have not responded to my telephone calls, and despite being given the appropriate persons mobile number I have failed to solicit a response from them over 2 days of frustration in trying.

The police are not interested in the event, despite it being on camera, because it is civil action. The highways agency, are not interested even though the oil went all over the motorway as well as me. They informed me that, ALL MOTORWAYS ARE INSPECTED DAILY [ ‘yeah, like we all haven’t seen pools of diesel on our way round the country day after day‘] and as the event happened on Saturday, it would have been cleaned up already [but they have no record of the event].

Nor it seems, do they prosecute. Even though my understanding is it is an offence for the culprits not to report the event. So now as a tax payer, I am having to pay the highway maintenance cost that should have been attributed to the recovery company.

I have also tried to access the police security camera video footage as an aid to my claim, but it is evidently against the data protection act for me to have access without the intervention of a solicitor and a subpoena. However they [the police] only hold camera recordings for 7 days, and we all know how quick the law acts.

So, bikers beware, if you are involved in an INCIDENT and not an ACCIDENT. Sling your bike down the road otherwise you will be sadly ignored or neglected, or better still make sure you’re speeding when it happens. That way you will get all the photographic evidence you need.

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By Anonymous