Despite almost three decades of experience on motorcycles and describing himself as a ‘defensive’ rider always on the lookout for others making mistakes’, Matthew was powerless to prevent being knocked off his bike and suffering a serious injury.
Filtering alongside queuing traffic on a busy road in Wandsworth, in South West London, he was suddenly hit by a car driver who swung to his right, causing him to fly over his handlebars, off the car bonnet and into the middle of the road.
Fortunately he suffered no broken bones, but the fall was to cause long-term pain and suffering due to soft tissue injuries in his shoulder, injuries which were not discovered until some months after the accident.
“I’m an experienced and defensive rider, as I’ve always been taught to look out for the idiot and to try and anticipate the worst things others could do on the roads at any given time,” Matthew said.
“I’ve been in a few scrapes in my time as a motorcyclist and on each occasion it was caused by another road user not carrying out full observations. On this occasion the driver was sat in traffic and simply lost patience and decided to do a sudden U-turn.”
‘Filtering’ – a biker’s advantage which comes with its own risks
Matthew says he had been ‘filtering’ down the central line of a long queue of traffic stood at a red light. He says that it is a situation he is always extremely careful in, as he is aware of the dangerous position it leaves the rider.
“It is one of the advantages of being on a small, mobile machine and it is a completely legitimate manoeuvre for motorcyclists to complete as it allows us to surpass the sitting traffic and be ready to move on when the lights turn to green. Cyclists do the same.
“Whilst it is an advantage, it can be a dangerous position as often drivers do lose patience. On this occasion, the traffic coming the other way was clear, which perhaps made it more dangerous for me as had it been busy the car driver would not have been able to suddenly swing into that lane.
“I did see the front wheel of the car ahead of the one I was beside suddenly swing right. It was enough time for me to know in my mind what was going to happen, and to react, but even though I was only going around 20mph it was not enough time to stop.
“I went straight into the front driver’s side of the car, onto his bonnet and landed in the middle of the road. The bike ended up well down the road and I landed on my left shoulder and whacked my head on the ground.
“It was certainly the hardest impact I have had with my head in all my year’s riding and when I tried to stand up I couldn’t for a good five or 10 minutes as I was badly concussed.
“The driver was really apologetic and kept saying that he couldn’t believe what he had done as he was always so careful and looking for motorbikes, but it just went to prove how quickly accidents can happen.”
Legal claim enable injured rider to access physiotherapy on injured shoulder
As part of a legal claim through Hudgell Solicitors, Matthew attended a number of physiotherapy sessions on his shoulder to help improve movement.
A hospital examination at A&E following the accident had not identified any breaks, so the course of physio was started, something Matthew says had a positive impact as he benefitted from greater movement, but also began to experience more pain.
“The physio sessions helped and I did get better movement across the top of my back, but as I was able to move my arms more freely I began to feel more pain in my left shoulder. That made me realise something was still not right, and after seeing my GP and having an x-ray and MRI scan the tear in my shoulder was found.
“I was told I could try and cope with it or opt for keyhole surgery, so I had the surgery which made a massive difference. I’d say now, two years on, it is not 100%, but certainly at least 96% or 97%, and that is a result to be happy with.”
Referring to his support from Hudgell Solicitors, which was led by personal injury claims specialist Helen Creaser and resulted in a £15,851 damages settlement, he said: “I was really happy with the support I received.
“I contacted a few legal firms at first but Hudgells were the ones who came back to me quickly and communicated with me. It made me confident they were on the ball, and that was the case throughout as Helen kept me updated and arranged the physiotherapy.
“She made it clear that the priority was to ensure the damages settlement reflected how the injury had impacted on me, both in terms of pain and disruption to my life. That is why we had to wait to see how I recovered.”
Mrs Creaser said she was happy to have supported Matthew, and to see him back in good health.
“This was a significant injury which caused Matthew some considerable pain for some time. We were delighted to be able to provide a package of support which included physiotherapy, and damages which not only covered pain and suffering, but also loss of earnings for the many times he needed medical care and treatment.
“We hope Matthew enjoys a happy a safe life back out on the road on his bike.”