There are more than 1 million licenced motorcycles in the UK. The UK road network totals about 262,300 miles, so an average of only 4 motorcycles for every mile of road. Of course, as every rider knows, there is danger every time you go out riding, and overwhelmingly that danger takes the form of vehicles with more than 2 wheels.
In 2017, there were almost 1,800 motorcycle fatalities in the UK and some 18,000 casualties. This means there is approximately a 10% chance of an injured motorcyclist suffering fatal injuries. There are various estimates and studies but motorcyclists are thought to be between 25 and 40 times more likely than car occupants to suffer fatal injuries on the road for every mile travelled. This is of course because riders are vulnerable road users without the benefit of being surrounded by crumple zones and ever improving passive safety measures enjoyed by car occupants.
If you or a family member have been unlucky enough to have been injured as a motorcyclist as a result of a road traffic accident in England or Wales, whether as a rider or pillion, we can help.
Of course, some motorcycle accidents are the fault of the rider, but the vast majority of riders are skilful and experienced road users who have the advantage of also being car drivers and so understand what hazards to look out for. We have dealt with motorcycle claims for decades, and our experience is that a motorcycle accident is usually the fault of another road user rather than the rider.
Some Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Accidents at junctions account for around 64% of motorcycle accidents and are most common at T- junctions, where drivers fail to give way or to stop for the motorcyclist. The most common reason for this is simply that bikes are smaller than other vehicles, and thus more easily missed. When drivers do not take time to look properly, they can pull out in front of a bike either giving the bike no time to stop or colliding side on with the passing bike. Even a momentary lapse in concentration is enough to miss a motorcycle.
Misreading the road
Drivers are hard wired to keep a lookout for other cars, busses, lorries etc. It’s almost a subconscious process. They are too often not (unless bikers themselves) hard wired to notice motorcycles. Perhaps this is because 2 wheels are not a “threat” to a driver. And with motorcycles making up only around 1% of traffic, there are fewer of them to notice. Many accidents are caused by drivers simply misreading their environment and just not noticing a bike until it’s too late.
Most motorcyclists are acutely aware of the vulnerability they have here; At the wrong angle, a car driver can check their mirrors and still change lanes into the path of another car. That problem is amplified when the target vehicle is a quarter the size of the car. This problem, although common everywhere, can be especially dangerous on the motorway, where cars can often change lanes almost immediately and after only a cursory glance in the mirror, and given that at motorway speeds, a rider is extremely vulnerable to serious injury or worse.
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Around 13% of all traffic related deaths are as a direct result of alcohol impairment. Despite public awareness this continues to be a huge problem, with an average of 85,000 drink driving convictions per annum, and some 85% of those being male. Of course, any car driver who is under the influence is that much more likely to cause injury to any riders they come across.
There are probably very few experienced motorcyclists who have not had to slam on their brakes or swerved to avoid the careless opening of a car door. However, it is often simply not possible to react in time. Thankfully, such accidents are usually confined to built up areas where speeds are slow, and although any motorcycle accident can result in a serious injury, these generally represent the lower end of the scale in terms of severity compared with many other scenarios.
Although one typically thinks of a rear end shunt as something that happens to cars, motorcycles are just as vulnerable to this. Experienced riders will often try to use cars to shield themselves when at a stop.
Although all road users should adjust their riding or driving according to the road conditions, as with all other scenarios, motorcyclists have more to think and worry about. In wet conditions for example, motorcyclists will have greatly impaired vision compared to someone with window wipers! Riders will generally pay far greater attention to the road surface itself. While large potholes can be annoying for a car driver, they are rarely dangerous to them. However, the same pothole could be catastrophic for the rider who goes over it. And if raining, the pothole might not even have been visible to the rider.
Speeding is a significant contributor to the number of accidents, and also the severity of injuries likely to be suffered by those involved but especially for motorcyclists. Speeding gives the driver or rider less time and distance to react to the road ahead of them.
What should you do if you have been involved in a Road Traffic Accident as a motorcyclist?
Of course, if there are any serious injuries, the first thing to do is summon help from the emergency services as soon as possible.
Almost everyone now carries a camera in their pocket. Use it to take photos / video of the accident scene to show the positions of the vehicles involved and the extent of damage. Take photos of registration numbers of vehicles and if possible, the drivers. If you are able to obtain details of any witnesses, you should do so. This may be especially helpful later on, if there is a dispute about what happened.
You should ensure that you obtain medical treatment for your injuries. In these Covid times, it may not always be possible or sensible to attend hospital or your GP. You should however at the very least seek telephone triage from your GP practice. They will make a record of your enquiry and this will be evidentially helpful to identify the nature of your injuries should there later be a dispute.
Attending your GP or the hospital following your accident will help to document the injuries you have sustained. These medical records will provide a good basis for supporting your claim later on.
You should speak to a specialist personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. You (usually) have 3 years from the date of an accident to make a claim, and it is far better to start the process as soon as possible. Even if you think the accident may have been partly your fault you should still seek legal advice as you may well be entitled to make a claim.
You should gather as much evidence as you can.
Keep a diary of expenses and to track your recovery. Keep records, receipts and evidence of any out of pocket expenses.
What Can I claim For?
Each claim is different but examples of what you may be able to claim might include, in addition to compensation for injuries the following;
- Damage to your bike
- Hire, recovery & storage charges (usually handled by your insurers)
- Incurred Loss of earnings
- Future Loss of earnings
- Cost of medical treatment, including physiotherapy, counselling, prescription & medication charges, even operations or more extensive treatment or investigations.
- Care and assistance provided by family or friends (whether you pay them or not)
- Professional Care and Assistance.
- Travelling expenses.
- Damage to personal items, including clothing, mobile phones, leathers, gloves, boots, helmet etc
- Any other expenses incurred as a result of the accident
Uninsured or Untraced Drivers
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) is a body set up to provide compensation for victims of accidents caused by uninsured or untraced drivers. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed by uninsured drivers and without the correct insurance their compensation comes from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. This bill is paid for through the insurance premiums of all law abiding motorists.
Evidence suggests that uninsured vehicles are consistently used to conduct wider criminal activity, and are more likely to be involved in a collision, so by targeting uninsured drivers the MIB aim to deter criminal activity and remove their means of transport and make our roads safer. If you are injured by an uninsured or even untraced vehicle, we can help.
We are here to help. We are personal injury expert solicitors established since 1985. We can provide immediate advice and will respond to enquiries made outside of our core office hours of 9am-5pm Monday – Friday. We do not engage third party call centres who will simply take your details and promise a call back. You can get expert, personal and bespoke advice and assistance from one of the directors of our firm right now by contacting us. We are equally able to deal with a straightforward low value claim or life changing injuries of the utmost severity. There is no obligation, so do call us to discuss and we will let you know how we can help.