A young British woman who fell from her motorcycle after a farmer left mud on the road has been awarded £10,000 ($A21460) compensation for the crash and her injuries.
Malcolm Cummings, principal of Australian motorcycle advocates, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, says there is a lesson in the British case for all road users that the road must be left in a suitable condition for all other road users, including vulnerable motorcyclists.
In the UK incident, then 16-year-old Carrie Dickinson crashed her bike on the mud near Doncaster in 2013. She was not knocked unconscious, broke her collarbone, suffered severe concussion and cuts and bruises.
Her lawyer alleged the farmer caused or permitted the country road to become or remain in a dangerous, defective condition, and a trap to anyone in that area; failed to fence, guard or warn the rider of the hazard; and failed to remove the mud, causing injury, loss and damage.
Malcolm says he cannot name any similar cases in Australia.
“But it may well have happened and the principals are exactly the same as defective roadworks,” he says.
Farmers, truck drivers, authorities and roadworks contractors who have an impact on the road surface have an obligation to leave the road in a safe condition for all road users.
“If mud or any similar sort of material is left on the road, it’s clearly foreseeable that that would be inherently dangerous for motorbikes in particular.
Malcolm has defended a case of a rider who crashed because of poor maintenance and is investigating another matter where slippery clay left on the road after roadworks caused a rider to crash.
“Obviously what may be safe for some road users may not be safe for motorcyclists,” he says.
While road users should take care to leave the road surface in a safe state, riders also need to exercise care around farms.
On quiet country back roads, farmers are prone to leave mud, gravel, grain and livestock manure on the road.
Cow manure, in particular, can be very slippery and riders always slow down on a notorious stretch of the Mt Mee in Brisbane’s hinterland where dairy cattle cross the road and leave a slippery trail.