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Preparing Your Car for Winter


The winter weather can often present drivers with a number of dangerous road conditions. Snow and ice can push your vehicle to its mechanical limit so it is important to know that it can handle these tough conditions. You should always be prepared; in case you’re faced with a dangerous situation or get held up in lengthy traffic jams.

According to national statistics, breakdowns double in the UK throughout the winter period due to adverse conditions. Research has found that drivers are six times as likely to have a crash, and this number increases when ice and snow are an added hazard. Insurance claims also tend to increase around this time of year as a result of these added dangers.

To make sure you are all set, Hudgell Solicitors have created a guide to help you ensure your car is road-worthy for the colder months.

Inspect your car weekly

Carry out routine checks on your vehicle over the winter period. Adding antifreeze to your engine stops the cooling system from freezing. You can test the effectiveness of your antifreeze by purchasing a tester which costs approximately £5.

Make sure that all lights are working and are clean. Dirt can often prevent a full glow from your vehicle.

Be aware of visibility

Throughout winter visibility can be a big issue for drivers. Weather can mean it’s difficult to see while driving and can also affect your vehicle directly. Icy windscreens can often take a while to de-frost, so you may want to consider placing a material sheet across the front and rear windows of your vehicle. A nylon cover should help prevent frost getting to the glass. Don’t pour boiling water over your windscreen as the difference in temperature can cause the glass to crack.

Use a handheld brush to clear away any excess snow or ice on top of your car that could dislodge and become a danger to other road users. Use a cloth to wipe awkward areas such as wing mirrors and in between your windscreen and bonnet.

The wet weather will mean that you will be frequently using your windscreen wipers. If your wipers are old, then you run the risk of smearing oil and dirt across your windscreen. Fill your washer bottle with a good concentration of antifreeze screen wash to make sure it doesn’t freeze up.

Regularly check your tyres

Research by tyre manufacturer, Continental, found that two-thirds of road users are unaware that winter tyres exist. Their research also revealed that 47% of motorists admit to failing to check their tyres before the winter snap.

Normal tyres can contribute to accidents as the compound used in the material hardens, which cause the tyre to lose grip. Winter tyres are specifically made to perform better under icy conditions; increasing the ability to stop over a much shorter distance.

Check the condition and pressure of your tyres to avoid the risk of skidding. The current legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm in the UK, but you may want to consider increasing this to 3mm over the winter months. This will also have the benefit of increasing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency meaning you’ll pay less at the pumps.

Always carry an emergency kit

This kit should contain survival essentials in case of a breakdown in blizzard-like conditions. If you happen to breakdown in the countryside, you could wait a long time before your vehicle is rescued, so always carry essentials in your boot. Your emergency kit should include the following:

  • Food and water
  • Spade
  • Warning triangle
  • Oil
  • Torch
  • Warm clothes
  • Ice scraper
  • Portable mobile phone charger
  • Puncture repair kit
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket

Be Alert

Motorists must be alert whilst driving through poor weather. Failing to do so can result in the driver putting themselves and others around them at risk. You should drive your vehicle at a steady speed if ice and snow is visible and use low gears to maintain traction. Use higher gears to avoid wheel spin and uphill climbs.

To understand more about UK driving habits, we recently conducted a survey into winter road safety and how well motorists understood the Highway Code. The findings can be found below:

Hudgell (002)

The findings highlight that understanding the Highway Code and inspecting your vehicle throughout the winter can help to prevent a serious accident. Not all motorists have experience of driving in icy conditions so you should prepare your car effectively but most importantly, remain alert and patient at all times.


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28/01/2019 1 Comment

Are you sitting comfortably?

Motor bike diagram

An important topic is missing from learning to ride a motorcycle and that is how to sit on it, or more specifically, how to position ourselves on it.

The only official advice I recall is in the Highway Code, but that is directed at pillions where Rule 85 states:

“Passengers MUST sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests.”

Great advice, but what about the rider?

Q1: Is riding causing you back, wrist, shoulder or neck pain?

It’s likely this is caused by your posture, rather than the design of the bike.

The head and helmet can weigh more than 6kg. Having the head in front of the shoulders means the neck muscles have to hold this weight up, causing pain and discomfort. With our neck already bent backwards, any buffeting can damage both the vertebrae, discs and nerves in our neck as we lose the normal flexibility.

Pain and discomfort can quickly cause fatigue and can become a distraction from riding.

Q2: Does your bike feel nervous? Is it hard work to get it to steer or change direction?

This can be caused by the way you hold yourself on the bike or hold the controls. The following guide will not only improve your comfort but will make a positive change to the way your bike feels and handles.

Like our bikes, we come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so this guide is intended to help you to find the best riding position. Try the following to find a good position on your bike. It’s best to try this while the bike is stationary, so stick it on the centre stand or get a couple of people to hold your bike upright. It’s also good to do this with your bike kit on as this can restrict movement.

Finding the correct seating position

  • Sit upright astride your bike and try to position your backside directly above your feet  providing your bike’s design allows this.
  • Your weight is now correctly supported through the seat and foot pegs. You may now be sitting closer to the petrol tank than usual, which is a good thing.

Diagram how to sit straight on a bike

Holding onto your bike

  • Still sat upright, squeeze your thighs enough to have a grip on the tank but without causing discomfort.
  • You should be able to lean the top of your body to the left and right without holding the bars and without feeling like you’re going to slip off.
  • This is how we hold ourselves on the bike, NOT through the handlebars.


  • We control the bike through the handlebars, so of course we need to be able to reach them.
  • From your upright position, lean forward, pivoting at your hips without stretching your back or shoulders.
  • Keep going until you can rest the palms of your hands on top of the grips with thumbs underneath and fingers resting on top of the levers.
  • Keep pivoting forward until the bottoms of your forearms are roughly parallel with the tops of your thighs.
    Motor bike diagram
  • Drop your shoulders and relax your arms.
  • Drop your fingers under the levers so you have a light hold on the grips and your wrists are slightly higher than your hands.
  • Adjust your body position considering all of the above.

Are you now sitting comfortably?

You should now have an idea of your basic riding position but at this stage, it’s still work in progress. You will need to ride your bike to make further adjustments, while remembering the following:

  • Backside above pegs (if the bike design allows it)
  • Grip bike with thighs
  • Pivot at hips
  • Hold your body up with core muscles
  • Relax your arms and upper body
  • Drop your shoulders
  • Avoid leaning on the bars

This isn’t just about comfort. Positioning yourself correctly on a bike will change the way it handles and make controlling it easier, especially when turning and even more so when turning from one side to the other.

Riding with straight arms, elbows locked and leaning on the bars means you’re acting against the bike’s natural desire to turn. When you lean at higher speeds this, in turn, makes the bike feel nervous. It will also transfer all the bumps in the road through the forks up into your wrists, elbows and shoulders. It can also push your shoulders up, restricting head movement.

Your new, more relaxed riding position will allow you to drop your shoulder in the direction you are leaning, making it easier to turn your head to look towards the exit of the bend. All this will have a positive effect on the way your bike feels and handles.

Your elbows bent with arms and shoulders relaxed gives you a much wider range of movement when steering the bike at slower speeds; it also helps with balance at low speed.


It may take some getting used to, and from time to time you may forget and slip back into old habits. Simply remind yourself to relax, breathe out and drop your shoulder and elbows.

Guest Blog by Chris Harrison

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24/07/2017 No Comments

What’s it worth? How Road Traffic Accident Compensation is Calculated

A car wing mirror with a reflection | Road traffic accident claims

By Tony Carter, Incident Investigation & Advice Specialist

Nobody wants to be involved in a crash, whether it be a minor knock or a major ‘off’. But as motorcyclists, it is a risk we face every day and, let’s be fair, we accept that risk as part of the lifestyle and our love of bikes.

In a previous article, I gave advice on things that you can do to make life easier for you and your legal team wherever possible immediately after the crash. But once the dust settles, the next question that crops up on a regular basis is: “how much is my claim likely to be worth?”

One of the important things to bear in mind is that in personal injury claims, there is what’s called the ‘limitation’.  This means that there is a specific timeframe in which court proceedings must be issued against a defendant, otherwise, your claim becomes time-barred and is prevented from continuing.  Limitation in personal injury cases is generally 3 years from the date of the accident or injury. However, there are cases where you may not realise that you have suffered a significant injury or that you may have a claim until later; in such cases, limitation may run from what is known as your ‘date of knowledge’ (the date on which you knew or ought to have known that you had suffered a significant injury due to the negligence of the defendant).

An exception to this rule is in the case of children where the 3-year period does not start to run until their 18th birthday, i.e. when they become and adult. A further exception is for people who do not have the capacity to conduct their own affairs, e.g. people who have suffered a severe brain injury; in such cases, there is, effectively, no limitation period.  Having said that, it is also fair to say that the majority of cases are settled without the need to issue court proceedings, or to ever see the inside of a courtroom.

One very important point to make at the outset is that the system of compensation in this country is designed to put the person in the position that they would have been in had they not had the accident, i.e. to compensate for losses arising from it. Compensation is not awarded to provide any bonus or windfall for the injured party nor, generally, speaking, to punish the wrongdoer.

When it comes to compensation (or ‘damages’) in a personal injury claim, there are two elements to consider:

General Damages

The first part is called ‘general damages’: this is the part of the claim that deals with the injuries sustained and includes payment for the actual pain and suffering, as well as any inability to lead your normal life as a result of the injuries.

When I speak to groups and clubs, one of the questions I always ask is how much they think a catastrophic injury such as a severe brain injury is worth.  The answers range from half a million pounds to several million; the truth might be more surprising.

If you read any motorcycle forum, a common question asked is “I received such and such an injury, how much is it worth?”  Everyone and his mate will offer a value, and if you speak to 10 riders who all sustained the same or similar injuries and claimed compensation, the figures awarded will often vary.  This is because every case has to be judged on its own individual merits and the way a similar injury affects people will also vary, as will the time it takes for them to recover. There may also be a situation where a degree of contributory negligence has to be taken into account (which is a separate subject) and so it is impossible to put an exact figure on a specific injury; this is where your solicitors’ knowledge and skills come to the fore.

Additionally, no two people have the same personal circumstances, e.g. one person may have lost a lot of pay as a result of the accident compared with another, and this also has a bearing, so nobody can provide specific figures without having all the facts of the individual case.

Special Damages & Future Losses

The second element of the claim is called ‘special damages’: this is where the high values in the serious cases that you often hear about come into play.

Broadly, special damages cover all the quantifiable, financial losses that the injured person has suffered, or is likely to suffer, as a result of the crash and the injuries that were sustained.

The list of what can be claimed for is not restricted, providing it is justified and can be substantiated and results from the defendant’s negligence.  In minor cases, the most obvious elements of the special damages claim are things like out-of-pocket expenses, so for example, travelling costs, if you have to make visits to the hospital or to see your doctor; car parking costs; prescription costs; and the cost of replacing damaged, personal items, such as clothing, crash helmets and the like.

Then there are less obvious things: for example if you cannot keep your garden in order and you need to pay for someone to come in and look after it for you during your incapacity, or maybe you just need someone to go and do your weekly groceries shop for you; this can all be claimed back.

What I always advise people is, wherever possible, keep a diary and use it to keep a record of your costs, and also try to keep any relevant receipts, invoices, etc. you have.  The defendant insurers will often try and question or ask you to mitigate these expenses, but if you have it all in a diary with what you paid for and why, together with any receipts you have managed to keep, then it makes it much more difficult for the defendant to contest that element of the claim.

In the very serious cases, such as a severe brain injury or tetraplegia, the financial losses can be extremely high.  For example, the person might need 24-hour, around-the-clock medical care; they may need to have their home adapted; or they may need to have a specially-adapted vehicle, which in turn will need to be replaced every few years.

Then there is the loss of earnings.  Someone badly injured in, say, their early 30’s in a high-paid job, who was expected to progress in their career, is going to suffer severe financial losses and so this loss is carefully calculated by the experts and lawyers. This may also take into account any resulting pension loss.

So, the list really is not definitive as to what can be claimed but, in the same vein, these losses have to be mitigated where possible.

How long will my claim take to settle?

This is another question that is difficult to answer as again, no two cases are ever the same.  Many of the high-volume non-specialist law and claims-management firms will make promises of a fast settlement which can lead to a number of issues.

Firstly, if the claim is settled before you have fully recovered and you sign a full-and-final settlement, and then you find that your problems persist, then you will not be able to re-open the case, leaving only one option which is to sue your legal representative for professional negligence.

But in any case, if your case is settled too quickly, then there is a fair chance that your claim will have been undervalued for a quick settlement which could leave you well out of pocket.

As a general rule, the approximate settlement times can be broken into three time periods:

Minor Injuries – 12 – 18 months

Moderate Injuries – 18 – 36 months

Serious and/or Catastrophic Injuries – 3 years +

In the case of a brain injury, you are looking at a potential claim period of 5 years or more, as it takes a number of years before the doctors can determine the true severity of the injury and its long-term effects.  Once the injury has stabilised and the likely capability of the individual can be established, then an accurate value can start to be calculated for the appropriate amount of compensation.

Who decides how serious the injury is?

From a practical point of view, most of us will know whether an injury is minor or serious, but from a legal point of view, in order to claim compensation, it needs a properly-qualified, independent, medical expert to make that determination.

In most cases, the claimant at some stage during the claims process (often once they have made a recovery or are well on the road to recovery) will be asked to attend an examination with a qualified medical expert who will discuss the crash and the injuries, as well as any on-going issues. The expert will then submit a written report on their findings and it is this report that helps your solicitor value the case.

In the case of a severe or catastrophic injury, the medical assessments will be on-going from an early stage in the claims process, and may well involve a number of specialist medical experts from a range of fields. This is because you have to have an expert from the correct medical field to assess each type of injury, e.g. if you have broken your leg, you will need an orthopaedic expert, but if you have suffered a brain injury you will need a neurologist, amongst others.

The bottom line is that the only person who can reliably provide you with a figure as to the value is your solicitor or legal representative. If your claim is handled properly, then there is no quick settlement solution, but if you have the right people looking after you, then in the long-term your case should realise its full and proper value.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident, our expert solicitors are here to help you claim the compensation you’re entitled to. For more information, visit our road traffic accidents claim hub or click here to start your no win no fee claim today.

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13/06/2017 No Comments

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