The combination of low visibility and lack of driver protection mean that motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable on the roads and they are more likely to suffer severe injuries in an accident. Serious orthopaedic, head and spinal injuries are commonly seen, and far too many motorbike, scooter and moped riders are still fatally injured in road accidents.
Despite a gradual fall in the number of motorcyclists killed in accidents on the road in the UK over recent years, motorcyclists still accounted for around 20% of all deaths on the UK roads in 2011.
For a claim to succeed it is necessary to show that another party was at fault in causing the accident. The most common scenario giving rise to motorcycle accidents is a collision with another vehicle, and in those cases the claim is directed to the insurers of that vehicle (or if no insurers to the Motor Insurers Bureau). Common situations giving rise to liability include the following:
Other vehicle emerging from a side road failing to see motorcycle approaching in main road
Driver carrying out manoeuvre whilst being overtaken by motorbike
Other driver misjudging speed and distance of motorbike
Other vehicle turning at junction and failing to see motorbike
Most motorbike accidents do involve some fault on the part of another person, although in reality some cases are not black and white, and it may be that the motorcyclist feels that they share at least some responsibility for the accident they have been involved in. If this sounds familiar, and has previously put you off finding out about the possibility of making a claim, then try contacting us anyway to discuss the case without obligation. It is often the case that liability for an accident is apportioned between two different parties, and therefore you may well still be entitled to some compensation even if it was partly your fault.
For example, in a recent case Osbornes acted for a motorcyclist who was speeding when he collided with a van that emerged from a side road into his path and he was knocked off his bike sustaining serious injuries. Following investigations we were able to negotiate a 67%:33% liability apportionment, which meant that he received 2/3 of the eventual value of the claim.
In other cases there may be no other vehicle involved and the accident was caused by the condition of the highway or the presence of an obstruction on it.
The Highway Authority (usually the Local Authority) is responsible for maintaining the fabric of the road. If it fails to do so and potholes or other defects arise as a result, then if those defects cause an accident the Authority may be liable.
If the road surface is made dangerous by ice and snow then the Highway Authority may be liable for resulting accidents if they are not able to show that they had – and carried out – a proper system for gritting.
The highway may become dangerous by spillages or leakages. A landmark case in 2003 paved the way for a claim to the Motor Insurers Bureau in injury cases arising from oil spillages, the principle being that the MIB have to meet claims against untraced motorists, and that a large diesel spillage is likely to have been caused by the negligence of an untraced driver.
In one recent case we recovered substantial damages from a local water authority for a motorcyclist who lost control of his bike on a patch of water that had leaked from a faulty mains pipe onto the road where it had frozen.
What you should do if you have been injured in a cycling or motorbike accident
Whether or not the other party is insured and because the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) have very strict time limits, it is very important that the following steps are taken after any accident:
Take down the details of the other party at the scene, including name, address, telephone, insurance details and vehicle registration number.
Report the matter to the police immediately. If for any reason this is not possible, report the accident in person to a police station as soon as you can (and get a police reference number) .
Take details of any other party and any witnesses.
Contact your own insurers, if relevant