17 October 2012

Diesel spillages cause cycle accidents

We have recently taken new instructions from a cyclists who suffered a fractured hip after slipping on a diesel spill. Here we give some basic advice about pursuing compensation.

Driver negligence is usually the cause of diesel spills.  Drivers often overfill their tanks or neglect to use a fuel cap properly, causing hazardous diesel oil to slosh onto the street when braking or turning. Cyclists have very little traction between their tires and the ground, so encountering a spill can lead to a nasty fall.

In some cases of diesel spills  the police  may  be able to identify the driver from CCTV in which case the accident victim has a claim against them and their insurer. However,  the driver is often long gone by the time of the accident and cannot be traced. Who do you claim against then? 

Cyclists are vulnerable to diesel spills

Compensation Conditions

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau under the Untraced Drivers Agreement will consider claims for personal injury and financial loss in diesel accidents, under certain conditions:

·         The diesel spill must on the balance of probability (51% chance or  better)  have been the result of a negligent act on the part of the missing driver.  The very presence of the spill is in a sense evidence of a negligent act,  and difficult to rebut.
·          The spill must be “large” in size.  There is not, however, an actual definition of what constitutes a large spill but it is likely to qualify if it needs cleansing by the local council, or is reported hazardous by police, or if more than one person has fallen at the same place.  
·         Police must be informed of the accident within 14 days ( or as soon as reasonably practicable), or 5 days for property-only claims. 
·         Any claim must be made within 3 years of the accident

What about evidence?

If you have a diesel spill fall try to remember to do the following:-

·         Take photographs and measurements of the spill: use your mobile if need be.  The police may help with this if called to the accident: you may not be a fit state to do so yourself.
·         The local authority responsible for the highway should be informed and told to clean the diesel up.
·         Take the details of any witnesses to the accident and the diesel spill.
·         Request the police incident log detailing communications between officers about the accident.
·         Record the precise location     

 If you are a victim of an unfortunate accident caused by a diesel spill and the above criteria are met, you may be entitled to compensation under the Untraced Drivers Agreement.  The MIB will contribute towards your legal fees and otherwise we may be able to defer charging fees until compensation is recovered. 

Please either call Patrick Spence on 020 7254 6205 or e-mail ps@dowse.co.uk if you have any further queries about diesel spill accident claims and need assistance pursuing such an application.