Motorists liable for pedestrians and cyclists

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Eamonn Townsend

Motorists liable for pedestrians and cyclists

Postby Eamonn Townsend » Wed Sep 04, 2002 12:00 am

The European Union is planning to establish a more efficient single market in the field of Motor Insurance. FEMA welcomes this initiative but is questioning the fairness of the proposed principle that blameless motorists are automatically judged liable in accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

The European Commission (EC) recently published a proposal for a fifth directive on Motor Insurance. Its content is generally to the advantage of the consumer, easing the procedure to contract a temporary vehicle insurance in another EU country, and short term insurance for new or second hand vehicles bought abroad. The proposal also seeks to speed up the procedure for compensation claims from victims of accidents.

FEMA welcomes, to a large extent this proposal, which benefits its members as consumers, and seeks to meet today's needs with the growing mobility of persons within the European Union. However, the European motorcyclists' Federation has serious reservations on the "no fault liability" principle, which has been included in the same proposal, i.e. the fact that the motorist will automatically be financially liable for an accident with a pedestrian or a cyclist.

The media have published worrying news on the possible effect of this measure. Would it result in the possible scenario of an accident between a motorcyclist not at fault and a pedestrian, with the motorcyclist being injured and his or her bike damaged. The pedestrian's physical injuries would be covered by the insurance of the motorcyclist. But who will be financially liable for the physical injuries of the motorcyclist and the damages to the bike?

The Commission justifies the proposed measure by asserting that, while pedestrians and cyclists may be the cause of some accidents, motor vehicles cause most accidents. FEMA is questioning the logic and the fairness of this "no fault liability" principle, let alone the inevitable increase of motorcycle insurance premiums that would result from it.

FEMA is investigating the present national arrangements with regards to this issue throughout Europe, and is currently also in direct contact with the EC Directorate General for Internal Market in order to express the concerns of European motorcyclists and to ask for clarification in the vagueness of the terms and scope of this controversial measure.

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