Bideford Motorcyclist Wins Pothole Compensation at Court

A Bideford man who suffered back injuries in a motorcycle crash in February 2009 has secured compensation of nearly £40,000 at Exeter county court from Devon County Council. Graham Mills, a former member of the Parachute Regiment, who lives in Lanefield Road, was riding a Suzuki motorcycle along Abbotsham road, just by the former Grenville College. He rode through what he thought was a puddle, but which hid a large pothole, and was thrown from the bike.

His case was handled by Mike Clarke of Slee Blackwell’s Bideford office. Mike said, “We gathered extensive evidence to show that this particular section of road was repeatedly and badly damaged before Mr Mills’ motorbike accident, because of the extensive movement of heavy lorries and construction traffic involved in the building works at the college. Local residents had complained repeatedly to the council about potholes and some had suffered damage to their cars because of the state of the road. The council’s own records showed that the particular pothole that caused Mr Mills’ motorcycle accident had already been repaired previously, but the repair had failed. They also showed that the hole had been inspected only the day before the accident, but the council failed to take any remedial action, in breach of their own highway maintenance standards.

Mr Mills was running his own communication business at the time of the accident, but his injury prevented him from working and the company failed. He was a highly active man, with specialist qualifications as a technical diver, parachute instructor and climbing instructor, but now cannot pursue those activities. His whole life was turned upside down and he is still struggling to cope with the financial effects of being unable to work because of his injuries.

Despite us making every effort to settle this injury claim, the council denied liability throughout and refused to negotiate, forcing us to take the accident claim to a two day trial before a High Court judge at Exeter. On 19th October, the first day of the trial, the council finally made a fair offer, which Mr Mills accepted. I am very pleased that we were eventually able to secure fair compensation for him, but am disappointed that because of the intransigence of the council in this case, it has taken nearly three years and a great deal of work to get that fair settlement. The legal costs the council’s insurers will now have to pay have been greatly increased by their refusal to negotiate earlier; costs which ultimately may be reflected in the council’s public liability insurance premiums and therefore indirectly have an effect the level of council tax that we all pay. “

Mike Clarke is a personal injury solicitor, specialising in motorbike accidents. If you have suffered injury in a motorcycle accident and would like to know whether you are entitled to claim compensation then contact Mike at mike.clarke@sleeblackwell.co.uk or call him on Freephone 0808 139 1598

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