Harley Davidson fan developed fear of motorbikes after crash

Stuart Conway, 25, awarded £60,000 compensation following an accident in 2017.

Harley Davidson fan developed fear of motorbikes after crash Getty Images

A Harley Davidson fan who quit his dream job after developing a phobia of riding motorbikes has been awarded more than £60,000 compensation. 

Stuart Conway, 25, developed a phobia of riding bikes after sustaining injuries in an accident in Hillington, Renfrewshire, on October 5 2017. 

The National Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh heard how Mr Conway was working as a trainee mechanic for a firm called West Coast Harley Davidson at the time. 

Mr Conway was test driving a customer’s 750cc Harley Davidson when he collided with a vehicle being driven by Fiona Paton. 

The court heard how Mr Conway’s head went through the rear passenger window of Ms Paton’s car before being thrown to the ground. The bike also landed on top of him. 

He suffered whiplash and psychiatric injuries as a consequence of the collision. 

Mr Conway, who also owns a Harley Davidson, also developed a phobia of bikes which still persists to this day. 

Lawyers acting for Mr Conway, of Renfrew, launched legal action against Ms Paton and insurance firm HDI Global FE at the National Personal Injury Court. 

Lawyers for the two defenders had admitted liability leaving only quantum to be decided by Sheriff Robert Fife. 

On Monday, in a judgement issued by the court, Sheriff Fife ruled that Mr Conway should receive £61,252.27 from the two defenders. 

He wrote: “This was a job the pursuer loved.” 

But Sheriff Fife said this situation changed following the accident. 

“Any time he was on a bike, he felt very nervous, very anxious and was shaking. He felt as if he had to get away from the situation. He could no longer perform a major function of his job, road-testing bikes. 

“His employers were very accommodating, putting him into another role in the dealership, which did not involve bike road testing. He was a customs specialist, ordering accessories for bikes to customise them. 

“Mr Conway thought he could work through the issues but over time, he became very unhappy about that role. 

“He thought he was never going to be able to do the role he wanted to do, as an apprentice mechanic. He could not get past getting on and riding bikes again.

“Mr Conway was unhappy in the role as customs specialist. Every day he went to work feeling unhappy. It came to a point he had to make a decision for his own sanity.

“Mr Conway told his employers he had to get a fresh start. 

“He could not stop thinking about it. He just needed to be away from bikes. His employers were shocked. But for the accident, Mr Conway did not want to work anywhere else.”

The judgement tells of how he was taken by West Coast Harley Davidson in 2015 as a modern apprentice. 

However, he left the company in July 2018 and later went travelling with his fiancee between August and December that year. 

The court heard that following the accident, Mr Conway – who now hopes to become a photographer  – took up employment with another Glasgow-based firm called Ride On Motorcycles. He was responsible for cleaning and servicing bikes. 

Mr Conway also received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions in a bid to help him deal with his phobia. 

Following the accident, Mr Conway went on a motorcycle ride to Tighnabruaich in April 2018.

Private investigators also carried out surveillance on him. He was also observed riding bikes a short distance whilst working at Ride On. 

Lawyers for the two defenders told the court that Mr Conway hadn’t mentioned the fact that he was working for Ride On to experts looking into the case meant that he had attempted to mislead the court. 

They also said that Mr Conway had deliberately failed to tell a doctor about how he visited Tighnabruaich and that he was either exaggerating or inventing his symptoms.

However, Sheriff Fife concluded that Mr Conway hadn’t attempted to mislead the court. 

He added: “In the present case, the failure to tell experts about his employment was unexplained but, in my view, there was no deliberate misleading of the experts on his part.

“The pursuer should have been more open about where and when he was riding his own bike. The pursuer downplayed the extent of riding his own motorbike post-accident. 

“However, I am not persuaded the pursuer was deliberately misleading the experts or fabricating his symptoms.”

Sheriff Fife concluded that Mr Conway should receive compensation. 

He wrote: “The pursuer, having suffered loss injury and damage due to the fault of the defenders, is entitled to reparation therefore.”

He also wrote that Mr Conway continues to have a psychiatric injury. 

He added: “The pursuer had and continues to have a specific phobia in riding other people’s bikes, including Harley Davidson bikes. That specific phobia is ongoing. There is no evidence of any end date. 

“That specific phobia will continue indefinitely.”

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