These boots are made for riding

26th May 2021

These boots are made for riding

Andy Shaw, is a partner and Head of Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence at Higgs & Sons and specialises in catastrophic injury and has a particular expertise in motorcycle claims.

As the bike season starts and the weather shows signs of improvement, motorcyclists are no doubt relishing hitting the road more regularly once again.

And that makes the significance of applying full protective equipment, particularly boots, even more important.

One of the most common injuries I see in my job are below the knee injuries, particularly foot, ankle and abrasion problems.  The foot is extremely vulnerable to trauma given the number of delicate bones and ligaments.   Those injuries might have been preventable – or at the very least less severe - in the event that strong motorcycle boots were worn.  Often shoes and trainers fly off following impact and a bare foot in a motorcycle collision at any speed is likely to result in the foot being completely destroyed, with amputation being the only viable option, resulting in the rider having to use a prosthetic foot to mobilise.

The Highway Code states that “strong boots may help protect you in the event that you are involved in an accident”.   A failure to wear ‘strong boots’ will leave the rider vulnerable to having their compensation award reduced for what the Defendant’s insurers will argue was contributory negligence.

The burden of proof rests on the Defendant or their insurers to prove contributory negligence.  The relevant legal test is not what injuries would have been sustained had the rider been wearing a pair of state-of-the-art boots but what injuries would have been sustained had ‘strong boots’ been worn.  Strong boots could include hiking boots.

Clearly, wearing a pair of trainers, shoes or casual boots would put the rider in considerable difficulty when it comes to arguments about contributory negligence.

Motorcycle boots offer a degree of additional protection over and above normal boots or indeed trainers.  They offer added abrasion protection, ankle support and the ability to resist crushing.

So, what happens in the event that a rider is not wearing appropriate footwear?  In all probability, the Defendant will seek to obtain their own expert medical evidence with a view to establishing whether the injuries to the foot/ankle would have been avoided altogether or less severe injuries sustained.

In the event that the Defendant discharges the burden of proof, the courts would reduce the value of the compensation awarded by between 10% and 15% which in a high value claim can amount to a significant amount, bearing in mind a good pair of boots can be purchased for less than £200.

There really is no substitute for not wearing full protective equipment even in the warm weather but over and above the legal requirement to wear a motorcycle helmet, I’d always prioritise a good pair of motorcycle boots.




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