Rider denied compensation for crash with lorry that crossed white line

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A motorcyclist who collided with an oncoming lorry which had partly crossed over the central white line has been denied compensation. 

To blame the lorry driver would impose too high a standard on him, according to the Court of Appeal ruling. 

Motorcyclist Robert Whiteford, of Soham, Cambridgeshire, lost a leg in the crash in April 2009 near Ely.

He won the right to compensation following a Cambridge County Court ruling that the lorry firm was primarily liable, but insurers for the Lithuanian operator appealed.

Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC argued at appeal that the ruling imposed too high a standard on the driver.

He said the collision “occurred for one reason and one reason only” because the rider was “close to the centre when he accepted that the course should have been a very different one”.

Mr Whiteford had accepted part responsibility on the basis he should have been in the middle of his lane, not towards the right.

Allowing the appeal, Lord Justice Richards said: “A finding of negligence in this case would, to my mind, be to impose an unacceptably high standard on the driver.”

The BMF has written to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke asking ‘how it can possibly be right that a driver licensed to drive the largest and most dangerous vehicles on the road is not expected to stay on his own side of the road'.

A BMF spokesman said: 'It has also been accepted by all parties that the lorry was too wide for its side of the road and when cornering at the time of the collision was over the white centre line, but simply because motorcyclist Robert Whiteford had agreed with the defence that he should have been riding nearer the centre of his own lane, something experienced motorcyclists know is not necessarily the case, he was held to blame.'

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Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell