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Grande finale for Dutch rider who crashed in Sweden

On the first of December 2014, an interesting case was brought up in the Court of Falun. It was a verbal hearing between the Swedish Transport Administration and a lawyer representing the Dutch rider Pieter Lankhuijzen who crashed on loose gravel in June 2011 when he was on a motorcycle tour in Sweden.

A fellow rider filmed the tour and also the crash. No warning signs for road work, slippery road or loose gravel can be found in the film. Pieter crashed in a hidden bend due to the huge amount of gravel. Since Pieter couldn’t prove that the loose gravel came from the entrepreneur who repaired the road, Pieter agreed to a conciliation with 75 % of his claim.

During the Midsummer weekend, 25th June 2011, Dutch rider Pieter Lankhuijzen crashed on loose gravel on a road in the south of Sweden. Luckily he was not injured but the bike and his clothes was damaged. The bike had to be taken to a workshop for some days before Pieter could return home to the Netherlands. He claimed € 5623 in damage costs for the bike and clothes from the Swedish Transport Administration. They stated that their entrepreneur had swept away all loose gravel after the road work and refused to give him any money at all.

Pieter asked SMC for help. But, in spite of two separate letters to the Swedish Transport Administration and loads of evidence: a video showing the lack of warning signs and the amount of gravel and also a GPS-log that showed that he was riding within the speed limit, they refused to give him anything at all. In the end SMC helped Pieter to find a lawyer to sue the Swedish Transport Administration.

In the beginning the entrepreneur gave different dates about when the road work was done and when they had swept the road. From the beginning they stated that the repair was done on Midsummer Eve (a major national Swedish holiday) but later they claimed that the work was done a couple of days before, 22nd June and the road was swept twice during the night 23rd June.

In the verbal hearing held 1st December the lawyer from the Swedish Transport Administration stated that they are in principal not responsible for the accident -even if the road work not was done in an appropriate way and if this fault led to an accident. In spite of that fact, they take the responsibility to cover the costs if this would be the result of the conciliation.

“We did not have any knowledge about the loose gravel and we trust the entrepreneur who state that they have swept the road twice after the road work”, said the lawyer from the Swedish Transport Administration. He also said that the rider could have caused the accident himself with his riding style. Pieter’s lawyer replied that the GPS-log and the video show that he was riding within the speed limit.

During the hearing it was stated that the accident occurred because of the gravel but the two parties did not agree upon where the gravel came from. The Swedish Transport Administration trust their entrepreneurs. To be able to win against them the Dutch Rider and his lawyer had to prove with a 90 % probability that the entrepreneur is lying, that they didn’t sweep away the gravel and that the gravel came from the road work and nothing else.

After the public hearing the spectators had to leave the room when the conciliation took place. In order to avoid possible costs for a future court case, Pieter agreed to an amount of € 4217 which was 75 % of the cost he claimed from the beginning. The Dutch insurance company cover the costs for the Swedish lawyer. Pieter got the money due to all the evidence that he could put forward, states Veronica Johansson, his Swedish lawyer.

“I am glad it is finished now and I think it is a good outcome. I also hope that the Swedish Transport Administration learned a lesson in order to avoid this kind of unnecessary accidents in the future for the sake of all the Swedish motorcyclists, says Pieter”.

SMC concludes that even if you have really good proof to support your case (video, witnesses, GPS-log and photos of gravel) the Swedish Transport Administration is not willing to take any responsibility at all.  The entrepreneur does not have any evidence for when their work was done and changed the dates several times. In spite of this it is the road user who must prove where the gravel came from. Is it really necessary for a road user in these situations to take samples of the gravel, send it to a laboratory for tests and compare with the gravel the entrepreneur use in maintenance work?

This was a good Christmas gift for a foreign motorcyclist visiting Sweden. The outcome also shows that the motorcycle community can help each other, across the borders. Pieter is a member of MAG Netherlands.