When a thief knocks you off your bike, how do you go about getting compensation?
If you get knocked off and hurt by a stolen car, you still have rights
Q I was knocked off my motorcycle and sustained very serious injuries when a thief, who had stolen a high performance car, rammed into me. I certainly think he rammed into me deliberately, and luckily the Police managed to apprehend the car thief, and his partner in crime. The criminal trial has not happened yet, but the Police are satisfied that they know who the driver was. This is based on video footage taken during the chase, and the video footage shows the person they accuse of being the driver leaving through the driver’s door and the passenger legging it out of the passenger door. The Police found the pair of them hiding under a car in a supermarket car park. They are ‘well known’ to the Police.
The Solicitors appointed by my insurance brokers do not seem to have the first clue what they are doing. I have been given three different versions of events as to who I should sue, and after five months, I am not any the wiser. The driver is currently on remand awaiting trial for GBH for my injuries. First of all, can I sue anyone? If so who? Please help me, as I’m not sure what to do!
A The answer is very simple and is set down in the Road Traffic Act 1988. Any known person who drives a motor car, whether that individual is a thief unlawfully using the car, or if it’s borrowed with permission, the insured driver or a named driver is deemed to be covered by the policy of insurance which affixes to that vehicle, even if the driver is a 12 year old thief.
The vehicle’s insurance company can be checked out very simply by any Solicitor through checking the central database as to who the insurer of that vehicle is. I have checked, and it is a perfectly reputable and well known insurer – in these cases they often are, but it’s still worth checking. Unfair as it might seem, you will have to sue not only the thief (with no real hope of ever getting your money back – he is on for a long period in prison for this offence, but I would be getting Court papers ready if I were your solicitor as you know where the thieving scrote is, and he isn’t likely to be going anywhere for a fair while), but the insurance company that insures the vehicle covers that vehicle for all risks, and whilst they might resist paying until it is clear who the driver is, they will pay up in the end. You don’t need to sue the thief. The insurers will meet the judgment and should be named as a party. The only issue you might have is if there is no evidence as to who was actually driving, but you are getting into very complicated area of law, involving joint enterprise and untraced drivers. On the basis of your evidence, with video evidence footage showing a person exiting the driver’s door, you will not have these problems. I had a very similar case, and one phone call to the investigating Police Officer made it clear they knew exactly who the driver was, and the insurance company, with a couple of safeguards, for the stolen car, made a significant interim payment to my client, and also organised his rehabilitation. Good luck.