The nice sunny evenings have been an incentive to get out for a ride on my motorbike. It is always good to have somewhere to ride to and at H Café near Dorchester on the A4074 they do a good cup of coffee and there are always plenty of other bikes to admire on a Monday evening in the summer.
On my journey I was amazed to see others out on bikes wearing such inappropriate clothing! There were men in shorts and girls wearing ridiculously flimsy sandals. Admittedly it was very hot still, but with the wide variety of winter and summer clothing now available which carries more protection I was surprised at the recklessness of these riders.
As a personal injury lawyer, of course I had in mind the principle used in cases of failure to wear seat belts. If it is found that this failure makes a substantial difference to the injuries, i.e. that they would have been either non existent or substantially less, the total sum of damages can be reduced by either 25% in the former case, or 15% in the latter.
Whilst I do not think there is a case that makes similar provisions for such “contributory negligence” in the failure to wear protective clothing, it is certainly the case that in my experience Defendant insurers will argue that damages should be reduced because by the wearing of protective clothing the injury would have been prevented or reduced.
In one of my cases that went to trial, the trial judge suggested that there should be an extension of this principle such that the Judge should have a discretion to make a larger reduction than 25% in appropriate cases. Because of this unhelpful indication, the insurers decided to take the award to appeal to see if they could have it reduced. Eventually we struck a deal with them on good terms, such that they withdrew their appeal. Notwithstanding this, I am aware that some insurers have misleadingly tried to use this case (Hitchens v Berkshire County Council) as a precedent to suggest that the trial judge has a complete discretion.
I was therefore pleased to read in the case of Stanton v Collinson  that although there might be unusual cases in which departure from the two standard reductions might be contemplated, generally the two brackets are still appropriate.
I was glad to see that the insurers were defeated, but I think it would be unfortunate if bikers played into their hands by failing to get kitted out in the correct gear. Most safety literature recommends as a minimum padded gloves, protective boots, motor cycle leathers or equivalent protective clothing, and of course an approved safety helmet.
Even on a hot sunny evening you can still look cool and arrive safe.
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