Who was to blame for a drunken motorcycle collision? Which case won?
Intoxicated friends ride trail bikes on public road and crash into each other
At 5:15 in the morning following a night of heavy drinking, the plaintiff and defendant (who were friends) each rode unregistered off-road motorcycles (trail bikes) on a public road in New South Wales. Neither motorcycle was fitted with a headlight.
While travelling in opposite directions along the road, the two trail bikes were involved in what was effectively a head-on collision.
The collision occurred on the plaintiff’s side of the road, about 1.5 metres from the centre line on the road. The bikes collided both on their left sides, which meant that the defendant’s bike had to have crossed the path of the plaintiff’s bike before they collided.
The plaintiff was wearing a motorcycle helmet, but the defendant was not. While the plaintiff was unlicensed, he did have considerable experience riding trail bikes.
Blood-alcohol content of defendant three times the legal limit
Both the plaintiff and the defendant were intoxicated. The plaintiff’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was undetermined. The defendant’s BAC was estimated by a forensic pharmacologist to be 0.156 at the time of the accident, which is over three times the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle.
The evidence established that the defendant was travelling in excess of the speed limit, while the plaintiff was travelling at or below the speed limit.
Plaintiff suffers serious injuries and sues Nominal Defendant
The plaintiff suffered very significant injuries, including the amputation of his left leg and the loss of effective use of his left arm, among others.
The plaintiff sued “the Nominal Defendant”, the entity which is taken to be the insurer of unregistered or uninsured vehicles for the purposes of a compensation claim arising from accidents which occur on the roads in New South Wales.