Claiming compensation for motorcycle accidents
This summer is likely to see a huge increase in traffic on Britain’s roads as lockdown ends and tourists flock to grab some sunshine and reunite with their families. Such an increase in traffic numbers, however, brings with it greater risks for motorcyclists.
How many motorcycle accidents are there each year on UK roads?
According to the most recent government statistics, 336 motorcyclists were killed and 16,224 injured on UK roads in 2019. And, although motorcyclists represent just one per cent of all road users, they account for nearly 20 per cent of all deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s roads.
What are the common causes of motorcycles accidents?
The reasons for motorcycle accidents vary, but common causes include:
- failing to correctly negotiate a bend – often because the motorcyclist is speeding or simply misjudged the curve;
- poor road conditions – icy or uneven road surfaces, or mud or spillages on the road can often lead to a motorcyclist losing control;
- collisions at junctions – with car drivers pulling out and colliding with a motorcyclist at a T-junction being particularly common;
- overtaking collisions.
What do I have to prove to bring a compensation claim for a motorcycle accident?
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident and someone else was to blame, it is natural to want to seek compensation. To do so though, you will need to prove that the person responsible for your injuries was negligent.
This requires you to show that the individual who caused your motorcycle to crash owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty of care, and that you were injured as a result of this breach.
All drivers owe other road users and pedestrians a duty of care, while highway authorities also have a legal duty to put measures in place to make sure that roads are as safe as possible.
When assessing negligence the court will gauge whether the other party’s actions failed the standard of what the ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would do in the same situation.
What evidence do I need to provide?
To ensure your case is as robust as possible, you’ll need to produce evidence to prove the other party was negligent. This includes:
- names and contact details of any potential witnesses;
- photographs of the scene of the accident and your injuries;
- details of any police report;
- records of any medical treatment you had following the accident;
- any CCTV footage of the accident;
- details of any expenses which have arisen from your injury, and of those going forward, such as time you need to take off work to recover;
- a written account of the accident and how your injuries have affected your mental, physical and financial state.
What if the accident was partly my fault?
If you were partially to blame for your motorcycle accident, or if your injuries were exacerbated through your own negligence – for example, if you were going to fast in bad weather or your helmet wasn’t fastened properly – it may still be possible for your to make a claim, as long as someone else was at fault too.
If the accident was partly your fault, however, your compensation package would be reduced depending on how much the judge thinks you are to blame for your injuries. In Capps v Miller, for example, the rider’s compensation was reduced by 10% after his helmet came off because the straps were not attached.
However, if another driver knocks you off your bike while you were wearing a helmet incorrectly and the injuries you suffer are not connected with this problem (ie, you did not receive a head injury), it is unlikely the contributory negligence will be found.
What if my accident was due to a fault in my motorbike?
Under the Consumer Protection Act, goods must be as safe as the average person would be entitled to expect. If you are hurt because your motorcycle was faulty, the maker of the bike is liable for any damage or loss caused to you or those that used it.
Liability is strict so you don’t have to prove negligence; you just need to show that the product was defective, and that it was this defect that caused the injury.
What are time limits for bringing a claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, you usually have three years from the date of your accident or from when you become aware of the seriousness of your injuries (whichever comes later) to make a compensation claim, although if you are claiming on behalf of a child or someone who is mentally incapacitated this ‘limitation period’ runs, respectively, from the date they turn 18 or when they regain mental capacity.
How can a solicitor help?
It is crucial to get early legal advice if you’ve suffered a motorcycle accident and want to claim compensation for your injuries. A specialist personal injury lawyer can guide you through the claim process, helping you to amass the required evidence – such as witness statements, medical reports and scene photographs – to strengthen your claim.
They will refer you to a medical expert who will examine you and produce an official report, detailing how your injuries were sustained and how they have affected your life. They will also help secure the care and rehabilitation needed to speed up your recovery, work hard to secure you the best settlement possible, represent you in court if necessary, and can advise how best to manage any compensation you receive.
How can I pay for my claim?
Many people worry about the cost of bringing a personal injury claim, but if your lawyer decides you have a valid case with a good chance of success, they may agree to represent you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
This means you will pay your solicitor nothing if you lose the case. If you win your case, your solicitor will charge a ‘success fee’ out of your compensation. This amount will be agreed beforehand, but will usually represent only a small portion of your total compensation package.
How much compensation will I receive?
The amount of compensation you receive will be depends on factors such as the seriousness of your injury, how long you are likely to take to recover, and how it has affected your life, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering;
- loss of earnings;
- additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
- out-of-pocket expenses;
- adaptations required to your home.