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Litigation in motorsport

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I think this needs putting to bed as we will go round and around in circles.

Bridgette myself and RVF have our own views which others disagree with.

I for one would not welcome litigation in any form. You paid your money and made your own voluntary choice at the signing on desk.

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I feel that there is a lack of accountability for your own actions in motorsport.

We all know the risks involved, but these risks should be from within the racing environment, I.e - self caused crash, crash infront, engine seized, puncture etc....

We shouldn't acceptable risks that are bought into the environment by acts of stupidity or negligence, I.e - Being 'wheelie'd' into, a rider coming back onto track without care straight onto the racing line, Anti-freeze in the water, components falling off the bike etc....

But then how is it determined if it is a act of stupidity or neglect? Some are obvious and some will be very difficult to prove. Like the components falling off the bike! In essence it is neglect but how can it be proved. This is were the litigation bit will get very messy and i feel unnecessary. But an obvious act of stupidity that cause injury, and i see anti-freeze in the water as this, should not go unpunished.

If your stupidity or negligence on the race track caused injury then you should be accountable for actions. That injured person is going to have to pay some way or another.

What about if you try a massively late dive up the inside but end up wiping out your opponent(s)? Is this stupidity? Yes. Is it a racing incident? Yes. should it be punished? In my opinion, yes. Not buy going to court and being sued but a grid penalty or a race ban.

If at the end of a race a guy pulls a wheelie but it goes wrong and they end up hurting someone then this i feel is a good case for the injured party to take that person to court. You decided to pull that wheelie at the end of the race, even tho it carries a fine if caught (it does with derby phoenix but is never inforced) so you should be held accountable for it.

I remember last season a guy racing with phoenix at cadwell doing one of the most idiotic things i have ever witnessed. He was involved in a great battle for the race win but he didn't manage to get the win. He was so pissed off (i learnt this to be the case later on) that after taking the chequered flag he slammed his anchors on, cut through a gap in the tyre wall that is inbetween the start/finish straight onto the track at the bottom of the mountain, into live traffic, and of up the exit of the track. Luckily he didn't cause a crash or seem to mess anyone's race up but the potential is there for you all to see. I understand that he only got a stern talking too. But, in my opinion, that level of stupidity should of resulted in the guy getting the proverbial book thrown at him.

I know that we racers don't want to get into a 'no win, no fee' culture, but gross levels of negligence should not go unpunished in some way or another!!

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BUT! (lol) I could argue the opposite for every point you have put above!

Parts falling off a bike....you claim negligent I claim mechanical failure....

Making a dive up the inside and cause a crash...you say stupidity...I say its a race and those who risk nothing gain nothing, no one goes into these situations wanting to crash!

As for the guy cutting through the track, had he ever been there before, had it been explained to him that he is to complete a full lap after the chequered flag and to come off at the exit? His last race could have been at Pembrey where you are taken off track after turn 2 (with NGRRC).

I really am playing devils advocate here because stupidity and negligence are 2 different things!

I think this is one of the best discussion we have had on here for a while and makes you realise how differently people look at racing....my whole interest in this it to see why the only person on this forum is suing someone else for a risk they knowingly took!

TBH...I would think twice about racing with someone knowing they carried injury lawyers for you phone number with them!

If you have raced for long enough....you have been knocked off and you have knocked people off.....the good ones get up, say sorry, help you fix your bike, buy you a beer and say hello to you at every round from there on ever after!!

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Gotta love the power of free speech :)

I hear you and completely understand and i'm with you on 90% of it, as i too would hate the 'fat bitch slipped on a puddle eating a big mac whilst walking through reception at work' brigade getting there grubby little paws on club racing.... And i tried to make that point, perhaps unsuccesfully, with it all being too hard to prove and that's when it gets messy and unnecessary...

And completely with you on your 'knocking people off' (sounds rude) quote... I have done exactly that. 1st lap into the new hairpin at snett. went passed about 10 bikes on the brakes, got in a mess with the back wheel in the air and ended up t-boning wayne humble and caused 3 others to crash to avoid the incident and the race got red flagged.... Bloody idiotic of me, think it got best summed up by someone saying my ambition outweighed by ability!! After the crash I went over and apologised to all riders involved and most of them shrugged it off. But looking back on it i do believe i should of been punished for it because it was ridiculous. If i was banned from the next race i would of begrudgingly accepted this. but as it was a racing incident, accountability of my actions should be kept within the club and not in the court room.

I'm talking about 'non racing incidents' acts... As has been discussed, when on the race track all actions should be viewed as 'racing incidents' and when entering a race we as racers are basically accepting that and I do, but I feel that some incidents should not be view as acceptable!

I know, understand and buy into the philosophy of 'well, that's racing' on ny on 98% of what happens out there.

Oh, the guy that i mentioned above was a seasoned club racer with bsb experience!!

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I think this is one of the best discussion we have had on here for a while and makes you realise how differently people look at racing...

I agree, great thread. And I don't think it's a bad thing for people to disagree or have differing views, just as long as opinions are respected, and the right to take a certain course of action is respected.

Again, I may be being naive, but I would hope ultimately the question of whether litigation is justified should never need to be debated on a forum such as this. The courts should ultimately make the correct decision by either throwing the case out and informing the claimant that they put themselves in an environment where such situations can occur, or by accepting the claim and informing the defendant that they were negligent.

Oli

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Gotta love the power of free speech :)

I hear you and completely understand and i'm with you on 90% of it, as i too would hate the 'fat bitch slipped on a puddle eating a big mac whilst walking through reception at work' brigade getting there grubby little paws on club racing.... And i tried to make that point, perhaps unsuccesfully, with it all being too hard to prove and that's when it gets messy and unnecessary...

And completely with you on your 'knocking people off' (sounds rude) quote... I have done exactly that. 1st lap into the new hairpin at snett. went passed about 10 bikes on the brakes, got in a mess with the back wheel in the air and ended up t-boning wayne humble and caused 3 others to crash to avoid the incident and the race got red flagged.... Bloody idiotic of me, think it got best summed up by someone saying my ambition outweighed by ability!! After the crash I went over and apologised to all riders involved and most of them shrugged it off. But looking back on it i do believe i should of been punished for it because it was ridiculous. If i was banned from the next race i would of begrudgingly accepted this. but as it was a racing incident, accountability of my actions should be kept within the club and not in the court room.

I'm talking about 'non racing incidents' acts... As has been discussed, when on the race track all actions should be viewed as 'racing incidents' and when entering a race we as racers are basically accepting that and I do, but I feel that some incidents should not be view as acceptable!

I know, understand and buy into the philosophy of 'well, that's racing' on ny on 98% of what happens out there.

Oh, the guy that i mentioned above was a seasoned club racer with bsb experience!!

This is when we have to put our trust in the clubs to ensure people know the rules, follow the rules and punish stupid behaviour. It shouldn't be a legal issue...... in my opinion ;)

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If it happens on a race circuit...in my head it is a racing incident!

Flash27 I dont think you should have been punished for that! no one can ask you to flirt with your own limits and not exceed them from time to time!

The guys you apologised probably empathised with you and accepted they have done similar!

The worry is...what if this guy wins his claim??

Where does that leave the whole sport?

Bearing in mind these days you can buy a house next to a race circuit that has operated for over 50 years and pretty much kill it through strangling litigation.....

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dsc88dsc88 says that Steve Brogan collided with another rider when the other guy slowed, I thought it was Steve who slowed and got hit by the other rider. Not looking for an argument, just clarification.

KR

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Clearly I'm not going to go into specifics but I am amazed by the what happens on the race track stays on the race track brigade,that simply does not apply in any other aspect of life nor should it.

In that case anyone could deliberately stuff another racer into the armco without fear of recrimination.

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I feel that there is a lack of accountability for your own actions in motorsport.

I agree absolutely. I've broken too many bones and been out of pocket several tens of thousands of pounds due to so called racing incidents that were anything but. Mistakes happen but so does negligence.

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Keith, the other rider that David was talking about was Blair Degerholm who was MRO Supersport 600 and MRO Powerbike Champion in 2000. He also rode the Wilson & Collins Kawasakis at the TT and Southern 100 with great success.

There were a lot of riders doing practice starts in the area before the old Dunlop Bridge at the time, Steve went for another bite of the cherry as he'd messed up his first practice start, not realising that Blair was right behind him doing exactly the same thing. It was just an unfortunate accident, that could have been avoided if all parties were slightly more aware of what was going on around them. That kind of thing happens sometimes as there is a lot of adrenaline flowing at the end of a qualifying session and it's easy to lack a bit of forethought. It also tends to feel very safe just circulating back to the pits after having been flat out for 25 minutes and your concentration & awareness can easily slip into a state of complacency.

Very sad as Blair lost the use of one arm and that ended a very promising career. I haven't seen him for a few years now and he may even have gone back to New Zealand.

Lawyers in motorsport should be an absolute last resort in my opinion, but sometimes when all other avenues have been explored, the last resort is all you have left. Not commenting on any individual cases, as different people have vastly different expectations of what is and isn't reasonable.

Edited by David Stewart

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Michael Ende (he who wrote 'The NeverEnding Story') would be jealous of this post, Is there an end in sight ???????? :unsure:

Ironic surname for the title of the book though. :D :D

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This is when we have to put our trust in the clubs to ensure people know the rules, follow the rules and punish stupid behaviour

This would be absolutely ideal, but certain clubs have proved that this is not the case!

1. In my racing career it has been totally down to the rider to know the rules, bar don't crash in practice, run out of fuel, pull wheelies or do practice starts on the cool down lap and don't ride bikes in the paddock!

2. So many people out there who believe their above the rules. No one is.

3. Stupid behaviour rarely goes unpunished, A slap on the wrist maybe.

If the rules were upheld by some clubs then maybe we wouldn't be having this discussion. You know that some people think that if they can get away with it then they will carry on doing wrong.

Tim has a point about being rammed into the barriers even though it is extreme, because under some people's way of thinking then this is basically ok because as a racer you have brought it on yourself by taking the decision to go out on the race track. I respect people's view towards that but(lol) are we basically racing in a lawless sport where even extreme cases of stupidity are 'allowed'.

Oli's right in the sense that it is for greater powers to decide. Whilst I agree too certain instances going as far as court i also hold the same fears that if allowed, people with dollar signs in their eyes could potential ruin the sport with claims flying around left right and centre over genuine racing incidents!!

Edited by flash27

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We have a choice which clubs we race with. If we don't think the rules are upheld or their aren't enough slaps on the wrist, then we can leave and join another club.

In my opinion, nobody takes out another rider on purpose. Maybe I have rose tinted glasses but in 8 seasons of racing I have never seen a rider intentionally take out another. As for wrecklessness, like I said before, we have to put our trust in the clubs to enforce the rules, as what one person defines as wreckless, another may not.

This isn't tiddly winks, it's bike racing... close racing.... at speed........ and sometimes the stakes are high. If you don't want to risk it, you have the choice of walking away.

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Bridgette why would I or anyone else walk away from a club having done nothing wrong?

Due to working hard and being a clever dick I can afford to have some little flower right my bike off and break my bones off every month of the year,it doesn't mean they shouldn't have to pay a penalty for it in some way.

Being thrown out of a meeting isn't sufficient, I don't need any monetary recompense and I probably won't get any anyway it's about accountability and making a stand so it doesn't happen to anyone less fortunate in life than me.

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Firstly - I'm firmly in the "what happens on the racetrack stays on the racetrack" camp.

But

Its not a question of should litigation be in motorsport. Litigation exists in all forms of life and that includes racing whether we like it or not.

And despite signing any disclaimers - litigation still exists. A fundamental principle in law is that you cannot sign away your statutory rights. The disclaimer may be used in mitigation but its does not absolve anyone from their legal duties as an organiser, or indeed a participant.

In all cases you must establish negligence ( which is very difficult), and then take into account any mitigating circumstance (such as its a dangerous activity, safety measures, rules in place etc) and then try to second guess how a court would see it, usually based on precedents ( if they exist).

Going to court is always a risk - and can be very costly - and this is where the crux of the matter lies. It used to be paramount that you had a rock solid case to even consider going to court. On many occasions a case would be dropped based on the fact that the risk of losing did not stack up well compared to the benefits of winning.

Two things have happened to change all this:

1. The rewards for compensation have risen exponentially over the last 10 years

2. The introduction of no-win no-fee contracts have effectively removed the risk of losing. All you have to do now is meet the solicitor's qualifying criteria.

being t boned in a race - would in my opinion fall at the first hurdle, the mitigating circumstances are too great (you were racing)

however, being taken out but someone popping a wheelie would stand a much better chance. but not one which I would take up personally.

A circuit owner not telling the organiser about some chemical spill that severely reduces grip if it rains - would in my opinion be something for litigation.

There may be some good news (in the long term) as the Government agreed to look into NWNF contracts following the Young Report on Health and Safety .

Jock

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Another opinion thrown into the fold - although it has more than likely been covered similarly in the last 3 pages but here it is...

Bit of background...

On Oct 7th 2007 I very nearly died. My limbs were smashed to tiny pieces left hanging off with nerves all over the shop, my head was flattened, my brain swelled, vertebrae were broken and after a very long period in hospital, then an electric wheelchair etc my life is now spent in pain fighting every day just to stay strong enough to ride a bike. This accident was completely avoidable. I hit a near stationary bike on the edge of the track on a straight. There were a multitude of contributing factors but I can guarantee one thing - if I had died my family had lawyers briefed and would have done everything possible to take those individuals that could be perceived to be accountable to court. I was adamant that I didn't want that to happen as I simply wanted to race again and not be cast out into the cold as it were.

Sometimes I do believe our sport needs a shock though and perhaps this is it. Far too often I see mindless idiots making silly decisions that ultimately could lead to a track environment that is less safe than it could be. And there seems to be no accountability beyond a slap on the wrist, and that's if it is even seen!.

I'm not talking about close passes or accidentally being taken out entering a corner, or striking a competitors bike etc as yes in the most part 'that's racing'. I'm talking about the limited intellect of riders touring slowly on a live track, popping wheelies under red flags, entering the track without looking over their shoulder etc.

My biggest fear going into a race weekend, every single race weekend, is that I will hit a near stationary bike as I know the outcome. Death or very serious injury. This is the single most dangerous thing IMO in racing yet there is no rule governing the speed bikes must be going on a live track and this one hand on the tank touring thing seen in Moto GP, seems to be the 'in thing' with the fancy sunglass wearing numpties. It is left up to these people that can barely string together a meaningful sentence to judge.... great!!!

Should an appalling crash happen involving one of the many slow moving bikes on straights where we are hitting over 180mph I'm not sure whether I would hold back again from pursuing damages somewhere. But is that the individual rider? The ACU? The club? The COC? Or is that once again, as in the past, no one and just crack on with the wheelchair thing again because 'that's racing'? I honestly don't know??

So litigation?... I have forever been against it in racing as yes we take our chances etc. But ultimately every situation is different and it is up to the individual to do what they see/feel is right with the advice and support they are given.

I would like to see a common sense rule applied to all live track activities though where all riders on a live track must be travelling at at least 75% of the speed (lap time) of the fastest rider on track. Penalty is all times from that session DQ'd. If you want to ride along with your arm on the tank looking factory fresh pi$$ off to your local bike meet to wave you schlong about.

Edited by Seb#43

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Interesting thread, with lots of good points - just to add to it, not promising any good points :)

Making some rather sweeping generalisations...and not passing comment an any individual involved in the particular incident.

English law, unlike the US (and maybe some others) is fault based so if rider/organiser/owner whoever - has done nothing wrong, then, simplistically speaking, that will be the ultimate conclusion.

And conversely.

Equally the law is intended to be a framework within which everbody operates, and one of the ways that the law is changed is through litigation. Historically litigation has brought about many benefits for many people - unless you think sending kids up chimneys to clean them is a good thing (mmm might do mine some good!)

Therefore, again simplistically speaking, bringing this coolant case (if that is what is) is simply a way of considering, in some detail, the rules of racing, and by definition many of those rules are designed to keep racers safe.

A possible outcome may be a rule change, say for example random tests at scrutineering. I have no idea whether the person(s) who had coolant in the radiator had it there by error or by design -(and it can happen that it is there - for example, I am currently prepping a 600 to run in EMRA roadstocks next season - and yes i do currently race - the rad has coolant in it put there by the previous owner to stop it freezing over winter - and yes i'll be draining it etc but if i hadnt asked or been told i could have assumed it didnt have coolant as the bike has been raced previously)

Therefore I do not think litigation per se is the problem. The rules must be crystal clear and enforced, by testing if necessary.

Plus pleading ignorance is no defence we all get the lovely ACU handbook and I would say we all have a responsibilty to prep our bike so they are safe for us as individuals and others on the track.

It seems to me that this 'coolant case' is an examination of the rules and circumstances that led to the incident. Is that a bad thing?

And i agree genuine mistakes do and can happen, mechanical failures do occur and yes we've all gone for the overoptimistic over/undertake...that's racing.

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Agree with your thoughts Seb and although my accident was not nearly as serious I could have had more serious injuries or died then there would be criminal charges no doubt.

Peter I simply do not believe that in the middle of summer someone would have antifreeze in their bike without knowing it,there are basics checks everyone does and water levels are one of them.

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Just to clarify the antifreeze point. The bike I bought has done one track day last summer, and not ridden since. It was then stored over winter, hence the antifreeze. And I will keep the antifreeze in over winter. Or drain the system. I am prepping it to race it next season, before it leaves my garage the coolant will be drained and the system filled with water.

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My worry is that if we open the gates for claiming for personal injury, then bike racing will turn into a football mentality, where they throw themselves on the floor on purpose...... but not quite to that degree obviously. Where would you draw the line? Someone goes down due to someone else's negligence, error, stupidity, your bike is damaged and you can't afford to repair it. Do you then claim your injuries are worse than they are in order to claim compensation and get some money in? I can't see a line in the sand!

Likewise someone makes a stupid mistake (let's use the antifreeze scenario) and someone crashes because of it, but he isn't hurt. Someone else then does the same stupid mistake but this time someone does get hurt. Is the first person any less guilty just because nobody got hurt?

All we can do, I hope, is to put rules in place and see them enforced. Personally I wouldn't like to see it go any further.

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