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British Biker Gravely Injured in Germany Guaranteed Full Recompense

It is perhaps inevitable that British motorists who are involved in road accidents on the continent often face claims that they were driving on the wrong side of the road. A case concerning a motorcyclist who was gravely injured in Germany showed, however, that such allegations are not exempt from close judicial scrutiny.

The motorcyclist, who was on a touring holiday of the Black Forest, was approaching a hairpin bend when he collided with an oncoming car. He launched a personal injury claim against the German driver's insurers. They contended, however, that the motorcyclist was travelling on the wrong side of the road and was therefore wholly responsible for his own misfortune.

Ruling on the case, the High Court noted that the experienced motorcyclist was well used to riding on the continent and hence on the right-hand side of the road. He had no memory of the impact itself but gave a compelling account of events in the seconds beforehand. He was able to provide a sketch map of the scene that largely concurred with positions plotted by accident reconstruction experts.

The Court found, on the balance of probabilities, that the car driver cut the sharp corner and that it was he who was on the wrong side of the road. The motorcyclist, who was travelling at a reasonable speed, had no choice but to brake hard and take emergency evasive action. He was in no way to blame for the accident. If not agreed, the amount of his compensation would be assessed, on a 100 per cent liability basis, at a further hearing.

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