Court Cases

Gordon -v- Louth Motorcycle Racing Club (2008)

In this case, a road racer was awarded €110,000.00 for his pain and suffering after he injured his knee in a road race in County Louth. The Court found that a proper risk assessment was not carried out and a kerb should have had sandbags or other shock absorbing material.

The following are extracts from the case:

This action involves a claim for damages for personal injury sustained by the plaintiff Norman Gordon while a competitor in a motorcycle road race which took place on the 27th June, 1999. The race was one of a series of races which together make up the Motor Cycling Road Race Championship of Ireland. It was organised by the defendants who are experienced road racing organisers and took place on a closed off section of the main Dublin to Belfast road just outside Dundalk in County Louth. The plaintiff suffered injury when his bike lost control and mounted the Ballymascanlan roundabout where he was thrown from the bike hitting his leg against an unguarded kerb on the opposite side of the roundabout.


The Judge said

Mr. Mulleady struck me as an honest witness and pleasant young person who although passionate about motor cycle racing was less defensive than some other witnesses. His evidence confirmed his lack of experience on big bikes and that this was his first open road race on the 1000cc bike. I have little doubt that his lack of experience contributed to his miscalculation of speed made that day. I am satisfied that the incident at the roundabout was caused or contributed by his inexperienced driving. However I was unable to conclude or infer that the fact that he was riding the 1000cc bike was the cause of the accident as his lack of experience coupled with his youth at the time could have caused him to make the very same mistakes as to speed and braking on the slightly less powerful 750cc bike he owned. In the circumstances, I cannot attribute blame to the race organisers for permitting him to enter a race with a bike which was too powerful for a support rider.

I do not find that the failure to implement the limitation of support riders to 750cc motor bikes in open class races was the reason the plaintiff suffered such serious injury to his left leg. While I accept that motor bike racing is dangerous and accidents occur when even the most experienced of competitors make mistakes, I find that there are certain minimal safety measures which must be taken to protect riders at known danger points. If the high kerb on the left of the roundabout had been sand bagged or insulated in some way, the plaintiff would in all probability have suffered a far less serious injury.

I accept the evidence of the engineer Mr. Michael Molloy on this point and find that the kerb opposite the northern right quadrant should have been protected by sandbags or other shock absorbing material. I do not believe that safety measures on a course should be dictated or determined by observations or indeed lack of comment made by entrants following a trial run but rather by conducting a proper risk assessment of hazards and points of danger in an effort to minimise risk of serious injury at those points. I therefore find for the plaintiff.


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