PAYOUT AWARDED: Christopher Spencer, then 45, had his spleen removed and one litre of blood drained from his abdomen after the crash.
PAYOUT AWARDED: Christopher Spencer, then 45, had his spleen removed and one litre of blood drained from his abdomen after the crash. Tom Huntley

$600K payout after judge believes biker over truckie

A MOTORCYCLIST, severely injured after overtaking a truckie who turned in front of him without indicating, has been awarded $600,000.

Christopher John Spencer, 51, sued truck driver Noel Downie and his employer, AAI Limited, in the Supreme Court after the crash on February 21, 2013.

About 7.45am that day, Mr Spencer was riding from his home at Abercorn to Mundubbera Electrical where he worked as an electrical trades assistant.

On the Burnett Highway, just north of Eidsvold, he attempted to overtake a "superdog" tanker trailer being driven by Mr Downie well below the speed limit.

As he began passing the vehicle, Mr Downie began turning the truck right into a private property, causing Mr Spencer to brake heavily, lose control of his bike and skid off the road and land in a ditch.

He was taken to Eidsvold Hospital but was so ill he was later flown to Bundaberg Hospital.

There his spleen was removed during emergency surgery, which also revealed internal injuries and a litre of blood in his abdomen.

He had also suffered head injuries, a broken collarbone, swelling of the lungs, deep cuts and soft tissue injuries, as well as ongoing pain.

In his suit, Mr Spencer said Mr Downie, a truck driver of 40 years who knew the area well, had failed to indicate.

"I look at that split-second to make sure there was no indicators on, he wasn't just wandering and then I saw the farmer's driveway and I thought, 'Oh my God, this guy is going into this driveway'," Mr Spencer said.

"That's when I thought I was going to head straight under the truck, so applied the brakes and tried to steer out of the way because I knew the front of the truck was going to end up right in front of me."

At Eidsvold Hospital, before the seriousness of his injuries was known, Mr Spencer told police he was angry because the truck had not been indicating.

"... I would have seen 15 flashing yellow lights," he said.

The defendants claimed Mr Spencer had overtaken unsafely at high speed and ignored the truck's flashing lights.

But Justice Graeme Crow rejected that, finding Mr Downie had failed to use his indicator.

Mr Spencer's version of events had been consistent, Justice Crow said, even when he had a head injury and had been given morphine, while Mr Downie's evidence had significantly changed several times.

"I reject Mr Downie's evidence that he had a 'look' at the 'start' (of the turn) because, if he did, he would have been able to see the motorcycle behind his truck and trailer and been able to observe its speed and then he would not have turned," the judge said.

He noted that Mr Downie did not mention he had indicated until led to by questions from his lawyer.

Justice Crow said overtaking a truck while it indicated would "amount to nothing less than suicidal conduct", and it was far more likely Mr Downie failed to activate his turning lights.

Before the crash, Mr Spencer's employer had intended to help him become a licenced electrician and take over the business on his retirement.

But he has been unable to work since then.

Justice Crow awarded Mr Spencer $639,127.99 in compensation and ordered AAI pay his legal costs.



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