Your Legal Questions Answered by Sorrymate Biker Lawyers

We would like to thank everyone who tuned in to our Facebook Live on Thursday 23rd of June.

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And once we get the technical issues sorted we will be having Sorrymate back on a Facebook Live, so keep sending in your questions . Until then, here are Fergus Dalgarno's answers to your burning questions.



Question 1: I have a new full car licence, I know that I can ride the three-wheeler Yamaha tricity300cc straight away but I’m not sure if I can carry a pillion passenger at the same time?


Answer: The rules for a trike are the same as a bike. You need a full bike licence unless you're disabled, then the rules are different. So if you can take a pillion on your bike licence, then you can. If just on a car licence, then it’s a provisional licence, so the answer is no. I appreciate that there are lots of different licence categories and rules but if your bike equivalent licence says no then the answer is no.


Question 2: If I have an accident and my bike has no MOT, tax etc, can I still claim? [Ed note: Do not ride without these!]


Answer: They can claim for injuries, loss of earnings, pretty much everything you can claim for if you were insured. If you don’t have an MOT, then you will get a little bit less for your bike than if you do have one. No tax makes no difference.


Question 3: Insurers say an accident is my fault but I do not agree. Can I contest it?


Answer: Yes. I've had quite a few people who I've acted for, where their insurers said that they’re at fault. Sometimes we get a split liability settlement, sometimes we win 100% and the insurers have been wrong. Always get a second opinion. A second opinion doesn't cost anything. Pick up the phone or drop an email. At worst If you talk to a solicitor, who knows what they're talking about, you'll understand if you are at fault and why, which helps a lot.



Question 4: Insurers for a car driver are offering to sort my client directly, should I agree?


Answer: This is a hard one. Let's say your bike's got a bit of damage and that's it. If they say take your bike to your local dealer and we'll authorise repairs. We're done.

If you're injured or you've got a loss of earnings (something a little bit more complex) then speak to a solicitor. I've acted for a couple of people whose insurance has made offers. They come to me and we get significantly more. Get a second opinion.


Question 5: If a bike comes out of the factory, but the exhaust is automatically over the legal limit, is the manufacturer liable for changes to the exhaust?


Answer: This is almost a consumer law question. All the bikes that come out of the factories are homologated. In other words, they've been passed as legal on the road. So, the factory is selling you an illegal bike. So yes, they would have to put it right or take the bike back and give a refund. 

As for aftermarket exhausts, they come stamped. If they're not legal, they have to come stamped, not for road use. 


Question 6: On April 28th of this year I was out for a ride coming home from Alston on a main A road. The road was clear; no cars, nothing in sight but unknown to me there was a 3ft deep ditch at the side of the road where an escaped Sheep was concealed. 

This is not one of those roads where Sheep are normally grazing at the roadside so I can only assume it had escaped from a field somehow. The Sheep chose just as I got level with it to climb up onto the road causing me to run into the Sheep,  myself and bike then ended up in the ditch eventually flipping us both.

I ended up with a fractured vertebra and 6 fractured ribs and an 8-month-old bike written off. 

The insurance company refused to go after the farmer for my uninsured losses as they said there was less than a 50% chance of winning and I received no pay out for my injuries. Is there anything else I can do?


Answer: The answer is always to call a biker lawyer and ask. In that case, the farmer has a legal duty to keep his animals under control. The fact that the sheep are on the road says the farmer has failed in that duty.

All sheep are branded, so you can trace the farmer from this sheep. The answer would be to get the police report, find out who the farmer is and. I think you've got a better than 50/50 chance of winning that I would take that case off. (Same if there is mud on a road next to a farm and it’s obvious where it came from.) [Ed note - Sorrymate is acting for this questioner.]



Question 7: If I hit someone in the rear is it always my fault?


Answer: No. If you call your insurance company and tell them you went into the back of somebody, they'll most likely just admit liability and pay it. But in certain circumstances, you can make the claim. Phone me or any biker solicitor first. What you want to do is phone your insurers and say, ‘I have a solicitor dealing with this and he says, I have a claim’ and it stops the insurer from saying, ‘oh, this is your fault’. Forewarned is forearmed.


Question 8: If your motorbike has twin front brakes, is it legal to remove one of them? Many similar bikes only have a single disc and it’s not like it’s a litre sports bike. On private property, I tentatively tested braking power and surprisingly it makes no discernible difference!


Answer: This is a bit outside my remit because it is construction and use. What I would say is that if you did that and the police decided that it made the bike in some way dangerous, then you would be in front of a magistrate who's never ridden a bike, who is somebody who wants to give back to their community by sending people to prison and fining them ( call me cynical if you will ) the chances are you will be fined.


Question 9: When will solicitors start taking up accident claims - that happened abroad


Answer: We have and have done for years. There are certain countries where I'm quite happy with dealing with the jurisdiction and all the issues, and there are other countries where I'm not. In those cases, I refer you to a solicitor who knows about the rules in that country, because although the case is heard in this country, mostly it's the law of the other country that applies. So, for example, you would have a British court applying Spanish law. You would want somebody who knows Spanish law, and there are firms out there that do that. They don't tend to be bikers, but I'll look after the biker bit and they'll look after the rest. Once again, get a second opinion. Don't call your insurer first. Call a solicitor.



Additional: An update on MCE


MCE Insurance Company (as was) exists under Gibraltar law, not under UK law. It's the rules in Gibraltar which apply, and those rules say you can't sue them because they're going bust in this country. They've got a claims email address where you submit your claim, then they've got a complaints address.


Technically you can't take it any further because you can't take them to Court because a judgment in a court here is not enforceable against them. If you go on the site and look at the articles I've written, there are a few other little steps you can take. And I am happy to talk through this as well.


So, there you have it, always get a second opinion. You’re not alone if you get into an accident, there are biker lawyers who understand the workings of a motorcyclist. Contact Sorrymate with your questions and queries here.