High Court dismisses claim over injuries suffered by man in Co Laois motocross race

Judge says plaintiff did not prove that negligence on the part of the defendant caused July 2015 incident to occurr

The High Court has dismissed a claim for damages from a man who alleged he suffered severe injuries when a motorbike ran over him during an off-road race.

Ms Justice Mary Rose Geary said John Hurley (43) had not proved there was negligence on the part of the defendant that caused the accident or the traumatic injuries he undoubtedly suffered. She said there was no question of dishonesty in the way his case was presented and that she had every sympathy for him.

Mr Hurley was competing in a motocross race in a field near Portarlington, Co Laois seven years ago when, he says, a bike hit him at a bend and he was knocked off. He claimed that while he lay on the track another motorbike went over him. He said he blacked out, suffered fractures to his pelvis and spent several weeks in hospital afterwards.

Mr Hurley, of Tullow Road, Carlow, had sued the event organiser, YMSA Ltd, with an address in Chesterfield, United Kingdom, as a result of the accident on July 19th, 2015. Among his claims was that a race marshal should have been at the first bend where the accident occurred. He also alleged there was a failure to take adequate precautions to prevent the accident.

YMSA Limited denied all the allegations and contended that Mr Hurley was partly responsible in that he allegedly drove his bike in a careless or inattentive manner. It further alleged that he failed to keep a proper lookout and voluntarily assumed the risk of participating in a bike race.

Significant evidence

After hearing the case over two days, Ms Justice Gearty said that while Mr Hurley gave the best account he could of what had occurred, he naturally could not see behind him at the time of the incident. The judge said she was satisfied there were riders immediately behind him when he came around the bend, still at speed, in circumstances where everyone was trying to get around it and accelerate into the straight.

The judge said the most significant evidence was from the two experts called in the case.

She preferred the evidence of the expert who had visited the site and who had a lengthy experience of taking part in the sport and managing such sites. His clear evidence was that he would not have put a marshal at the first bend in this field and she accepted this. She also noted his belief that if a marshal had been at that bend, it would have made no difference to the accident happening.