“Historic” judgment on racing incidents and insurance

World news

A High Court judgment in what has been described as a ‘landmark’ case could send shivers down the spine of riders, team organizers and motorbike racing promoters over insurance costs which are believed to be he, in many cases, does not provide adequate coverage.

A jockey, Freddy Tylicki, injured in a racing incident at Kempton Park five years ago, successfully sued another rider, Graham Gibbons, over what was described by the judge as ‘reckless disregard for the safety of Mr Tylicki’ resulting in a broken back and life in a wheelchair. Compensation, to be agreed with Gibbons insurers, has not yet been made public but is expected to be in the millions.

It is the first successful claim in horse racing, with a previous one resulting in similar injuries having been dismissed in 2001 by a High Court judge as ‘reflecting the cut and thrust of serious horse racing’. Kempton Stewards decided on the day that there had been no driving offense likely influenced by the previous judgment. Judge Karen Walden-Smith disagreed and said: “Mr. Gibbons’ actions were…. undertaken in reckless disregard of Mr. Tylicki’s safety.

While adding that the discovery set no precedent in racing or sport in general, a career-ending tackle on Manchester United footballer Ben Collet resulted in a multi-million pound settlement in 2008. And a article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper suggested that as a result of this most recent judgement, lawyers expected a resumption of claims from other sports. What could this mean for motorcycle racers where crashes, though rare, can be career-damaging or, in fact, career-ending?

The article concludes: “Lawyers expect an upsurge in cases in other sports where athletes have deeper pockets to claim damages.” And the five years it took Mr Tylicki and his lawyers to receive the judgment will not be encouraging for TT driver Steve Mercer who is still waiting for his complaint against the organizers to be settled. This was the result of a practice session being stopped in 2018 due to an accident further down the course and a group of riders being asked to return to the start in the opposite direction. They encountered a racing car speeding towards the accident, Mercer collided with the car and suffered injuries from which he never fully recovered.

The case falls to the organisers’ insurers and their lawyers while Mercer, aided by the support of the TT Riders Association and always in good spirits, has to fund his own legal costs. Someone, somewhere should be ashamed of themselves.

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