Knocked Off My Motorbike While Filtering – Who is At Fault?

If you are a motorcyclist and you are involved in an accident while filtering, depending on the circumstances that led up to the incident occurring, you may be entitled to compensation for damage and injuries you sustained. Research has established that incidents involving motorbikes at junctions stand a at whopping 34%. However, when it comes to filtering, proving who could be held liable can often be extremely challenging. As such, it is far better to seek legal advice from a solicitor who has the necessary legal expertise to take on this type of personal injury claim against someone who could be deemed responsible of the injuries you suffered.

To learn more about how to prove liability, the sort of evidence needed to support a compensation claim against a party responsible, and how seeking legal advice from a solicitor would improve your chances of winning a claim, please read on.

The Highway Code Advice For Motorcyclists

When it comes to the rules of the road as laid out in the Highway Code, when manoeuvring all road users must be aware of everything that is going on around them. This includes what is in front, behind and to the sides. All motorists and motorcyclists must also be aware of pedestrians when in a traffic queue, and to watch out for other vehicles that may be coming out of junctions, changing lanes, or carrying out other manoeuvres.

When it comes to motorcyclists, they must ensure they can be seen by other road users by positioning themselves so that drivers can clearly see them in their mirrors. Motorcyclists must also ensure that, when filtering through slow-moving vehicles, they take extra care and to watch their speed.

For motorists, the guidelines provided in section 181 of the Highway Code states the following:

  • When a motorist is turning to the right at a crossroads where there are oncoming vehicles that are also turning to the right, there are two options open to the motorists which is to turn to the right side of the other vehicles, or to keep the other vehicle on their right and then to turn behind the other vehicle. The latter is thought to be the safest of the two options as it allows a driver a clear view of approaching traffic when they are completing the intended turn
  • When turning left, to keep to the left side of the other vehicle, or to turn in front of each other which can often block any views of oncoming traffic. The latter manoeuvre can put motorcyclists and cyclists at greater risk of being involved in a collision. With this said, road markings and road layouts, or how another vehicle may be positioned could determine which option would be the wiser to take

Section 211 of the Highway Code deals with cyclists and motorcyclists specifically as follows:

  • Motorcyclists and cyclists are often hard to see when they approach other vehicles from behind, or when they are emerging from junctions, or when they are negotiating roundabouts, or when overtaking, or when filtering through other traffic. As such, motorists must take extra care and watch out for motorcyclists and cyclist prior to coming out of a junction because it is easy to misjudge a motorcyclists speed and the same applies to a cyclist’s speed
  • When turning to the right across a line of slower moving or stationary traffic, motorists must watch out for motorcyclists and cyclists who may be on the inside of traffic that is being crossed
  • Motorists must be extra watchful when turning, or when changing lanes, or direction and to always check their mirrors as well as blind spots

It is worth noting that the Highway Code recognises that motorists have a responsibility to take care when on the road where motorcyclists and cyclists are concerned. The reason being that motorcyclists and cyclists are more deemed to be more vulnerable road users due to the lack of protection they have around them.

With this said, if you are involved in a filtering incident when on your motorbike, you should not automatically accept that you could be partially to blame before discussing your case with an experienced solicitor who could establish that the accident was caused by the negligence of another road user.

Is There a Difference Between Filtering and Overtaking?

According to the rules in the Highway Code, a ‘failure to filter when appropriate’ would be deemed a test fail. However, as far as filtering and over or undertaking are concerned, there are no hard and fast rules. All too often motorcyclists who are knocked off their bikes by careless drivers are often charged with ‘dangerous or careless’ riding by the authorities.

The advice offered by many solicitors is as follows:

  • To avoid being charged with careless riding having filtered through traffic, there are a number of things that could be done which could also help defend a charge if necessary
  • Because speed tends to be a factor in this type of motorcycle accident involving another vehicle, both the speed you were doing and that of the motorist would be taken into consideration. In short, you should always watch your speed when filtering through traffic and to avoid going over 15 mph
  • If the traffic you were passing was not moving, you would be deemed the one to be filtering, and providing your speed was under 15 mph, it is unlikely that the speed you were doing would be deemed excessive or dangerous
  • If you were filtering passed other vehicles that were crawling along, this poses a grey area as such, extra care must be taken
  • If you were filtering passed other vehicles that were travelling faster than at a walking pace, the chances are you would be deemed to have been overtaking and not filtering by the Police

The rule of thumb for motorcyclists is to only filter when it safe to do so and to always be able to stop within their own line of sight. Other factors to take into consideration include the following:

  • Filtering passed entrances or junctions is deemed dangerous by courts in the UK. As such, when on a motorbike and you are approaching a gap in traffic which leaves enough room for a car to pass through, you should slow down or stop in order to determine that no other traffic is going to emerge prior to continuing the intended manoeuvre

As a rule of thumb, the more care you take when filtering on a motorbike, the stronger your case against a responsible party would be should you suffer injuries if knocked off your bike, bearing in mind that this is an area of law that is quite grey. With this in mind, it is always wiser to speak to a solicitor who has the right experience in handling claims that involve filtering on a motorbike that results in an injury.

Is Filtering on a Motorcycle Legal?

Filtering while riding a motorbike is deemed legal, but there are caveats. Motorcyclists are permitted to filter through traffic but only if it is safe for them to do so and that the manner in which a biker filters is such that it is deemed safe. In short, filtering on a motorbike is legal providing the following applies:

  • You do not straddle or cross over a solid centre white line
  • You do not overtake if there is a No Overtaking sign
  • You do not overtake a lead vehicle when in the confines of pedestrian zigzag markings
  • The manoeuvre does not endanger other road users and no other vehicle has to alter their speed or course if you do

With this said, if you are hit by a car when filtering on a motorbike, establishing liability can often prove extremely challenging. As such, if you were injured when knocked off your motorbike when filtering, it is best to seek legal advice from a solicitor before doing anything else which includes signing anything, or agreeing that you could have contributed to the incident happening which basically means you would be admitting to contributory negligence.

Is There a Legal Definition For Filtering?

Although there is no defining law when it comes to ‘filtering’, this type of manoeuvre is mentioned in the Highway Code and if a rider fails to filter correctly and safely when  taking their test, they would fail the test.

Although riding a motorcycle offers a great advantage over cars and other vehicles on the road, filtering is one of the more dangerous manoeuvres a biker can make simply because drivers often do not see them. As such, it is crucial that you take extra care when filtering through traffic on a motorbike to avoid being knocked off your bike and injured.

What About Court Decisions on Filtering?

Courts often take into consideration whether a motorbike rider could be held partly to blame if they are knocked off their bikes (contributory negligence). Insurers and courts base their judgements on ‘precedents’ to argue whether a motorcyclist could be partially or completely at fault for injuries and damage they sustain in this type of road traffic accident. An example being the Powell v Moody case (1966) – an old case where the biker was found to be 80% responsible for the accident happening.

Would Contributory Negligence be a Factor?

As previously touched upon, it is often argued that a motorcyclist could be held  partially at fault for an accident occurring that involves another road user when they were filtering through traffic. However, this may not necessarily be the case and you should always seek legal advice from a solicitor before admitting anything if you were knocked off your bike while filtering through traffic.

A solicitor would determine whether contributory negligence played a part in the accident you were involved in and if so, the level of compensation you receive would reflect what degree of responsibility each party, both the motorcyclist and the motorist is deemed to have had.

Can I Be Charged for Undertaking When Filtering?

Many motorbike riders worry they could be charged with undertaking if they were injured while filtering through traffic and were knocked off their bikes by a driver who was not paying attention to what was going on around them. This is a genuine concern because it often proves to be the case. However, it would depend on the Police officer involved and their knowledge of the rules on filtering that cover bikers and other road users as to how your case would be handled by the authorities.

As a rule of thumb, if you were filtering with due care and attention at an acceptable speed (15 mph or less), you should not be charged with undertaking but the circumstances that led up to the incident occurring would be taken into consideration by the Police when determining whether you were filtering through traffic or undertaking.

How Fast Should I Go When Filtering?

If you are passing stationary vehicles when filtering past traffic on a motorbike and your speed was under 15 miles per hour, it would be deemed that you were manoeuvring at a safe speed. However, if you were going any faster than this and you get knocked off your motorbike while filtering, you could be held responsible for the incident occurring and therefore liable.

With this said, if the traffic is going at a snail’s pace, the law is much greyer and it may be deemed that you were not filtering but overtaking when the accident happened and as such, you could be held responsible and even charged with an offence by the Police.

When is Thought Safe to Filter?

Courts throughout the UK recommend that you should only filter when it is safe to do so and when you can see that the path you intend taking is clear. Another factor is that you should be able to come to a stop within ‘your own line of sight’.

With this said, filtering passed open entrances or passed junctions is deemed a ‘dangerous manoeuvre’. The court also recommends that on approaching any gap in traffic which is large enough for another vehicle to pass through, motorcyclists should slow down or stop so they can determine that no other road user is emerging before continuing the manoeuvre.

Would My Case Be Valid?

Because this type of claim can be contentious and because a lot of evidence both technical and other is required to establish liability on the part of a third party, it is far better to seek legal advice from a solicitor who has the right sort of experience needed to take on your claim.

Should your case go to court, a judge would typically take the following into consideration:

  • Were both the motorcyclist and the other vehicle involved in the incident entitled to attempt the manoeuvre that led to the accident occurring?
  • If both parties were entitled to do this, did they do everything in their power to reduce any risks to other road users
  • If they were not entitled to do the manoeuvre in question, a judge would determine who could be at fault and to what level of liability

As previously mentioned, this type of claim can be challenging when it comes to determining who could be liable. As such, seeking advice from a solicitor is crucial if you think that your injuries were caused by the negligent driving of another road user who knocked you off your motorbike while filtering.

Useful Links

If you would like more information regarding the Highway Code and rules/guidance that applies to motorcyclists, please follow the link provided below:

The Highway Code Guidance for Motorcyclists

For more information on how contributory negligence may affect a claim against a responsible party and the level of compensation you may be awarded if knocked off your motorcycle when filtering, please follow the link provided below:

More information on Contributory Negligence

If you would like more information on the difference between filtering passing traffic and overtaking other road users, please follow the link below:

The difference between filtering and overtaking