Motorcycle Accident Claim * and Safety Guide
When looking at statistics for motorbike accidents * in Ireland it becomes clear that accidents involving motorcycles are a top contributor to fatal road traffic accidents on Irish roads. Unlike a car where you have a little protection, with motorbikes you are completely exposed. According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), motorcyclists are 6 times more likely to be fatally injured in a road traffic accident *. Car users (drivers and passengers) account for 65% of all fatalities on Irish roads, pedestrians account for 19% and cyclists, 5%.
Motorbike Accident Statistics
Motorcyclists represent just 2% of the licensed vehicles on Irish roads but represent 11% of fatal road collisions. Most recent figures from the RSA tell us that there have been 983 fatal collisions on Irish roads from 2008 to 2012 which claimed the lives of 1,077 people 11% of these involved a motorcyclist.
Recent RSA Motorcyclist Collision Statistics
- 56% of fatal motorcyclist collisions occurred at the weekend, on a Saturday or Sunday, with Sunday alone accounting for 33%.
- The months in which the most motorcycle collision occurred were April (26%) and July (15%). Overall 35% of motorcyclist road collisions happened in the summer months, May, June, and July.
- Cork (12%), Dublin (9%) and Galway (8%) were the countries experienced the highest number of fatal motorcycle collisions in Ireland.
- Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary together accounted for 47% of the fatal collision involving a motorcyclist.
- 23% of collisions happened in an urban area and 77% happened in a rural area.
- 54% of collisions occurred in an 80km/h zone and 20% occurred in a 50km/h zone.
- Weather and road surface was dry for 95% of all collisions involving a motorcyclist
- 75% of all collisions happened at bright times during the day.
- 98% of the motorcyclist involved in collisions were male and 2% were female.
- 50% of the motorcyclist involved in collisions were between the ages of 25 and 34.
- 71% of the motorcyclists involved in collisions were over the legal alcohol limit at the time of the incidents. 455 of these drivers 4 times over the legal alcohol limit.
Motorbike Incidents and Collisions
Below are the most common incidents and collisions involving a motorcycle accident *. In addition there is advice to help you with what you need to do after a motorcycle accident *.
According to the RSA, the most common types of incidents and collisions occurred between 2 vehicles (63.4%), 34.4% of incidents were single vehicle collisions and 1.1% involved a motorcyclist and a cyclist and 1.1% involved a collision between a motorcyclist and a pedestrian. In two-vehicle collisions, 70% were between a motorcyclist and a private car with the remaining 30% involving, trucks, jeeps, tractors or pickup truck towing a trailer.
The most common incidents and collisions involving a motorbike are
- Traffic collisions
- Right of way violation traffic collisions
- Overtaking accidents
- Loss of control when travelling at speed around a bend in the road
- Hit and Run
- Human Error
- Racing Accident
- Collision with animals on the road
- Mechanical Failures such as structural failures and electrical malfunctions
The main causes of accidents involving a motorcycle have been reported as:
- Loss of control on entering or exiting a bend, loss of control when overtaking, hitting a footpath or speed ramp, speed wobbles, braking.
- Failure to observe oncoming vehicles when overtaking
- Improper overtaking, i.e. overtaking multiple vehicles at a time, overtaking when there was insufficient room and overtaking on bends
- Inappropriate exiting from a road or entrance
Pillion passenger accidents
A pillion on a motorbike refers to the seat behind the driver. If a passenger is occupying this seat it is said to “ride pillion”. Accidents can occur in situations where the driver fails to take into account that having a passenger on board changes the way a bike handles, how it balances and its suspension performance. Some of the threats that a motorcycle passenger can face include:
- Falling when turning a corner
- Being thrown off the back of a motorcycle
- Head and leg injuries
The most common types of Motorbike injuries that arise from a road traffic accident are:
Unlike car accidents, a motorcyclist has a great chance of sustaining a head injury if involved in an accident. A head injury can be sustained even in a low-speed accident. This is why wearing a helmet is of utmost importance as it can dramatically reduce your risk of head injury or death.
This type of injury is one of the more serious types of injuries is sustained when the brain is suddenly traumatised due to an impact in an accident. These injuries are most common when a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet. This type of injury can affect a person’s cognitive, physical and emotional ability.
Whiplash is a common injury that occurs following a sudden acceleration or deceleration force. It causes rapid forward or backward movement of a person’s neck. The sudden force and movement cause the muscles and tendons in your neck to stretch and tear causing pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion and headaches from the back of the skull.
A broken neck is a fracture in one or more of the seven vertebrae that make up the neck, in most cases, a broken neck can lead to paralysis or in most cases instant death.
Road rash can also be referred to as road burn, this injury is sustained when a motorcyclist skin is dragged along the surface of the road. While a very painful injury to sustain, it is rarely fatal. Recovery can sometimes involve taking skin grafts from other parts of the body to treat the affected area. This injury can lead to permanent scarring.
Soft Tissue Injuries
These types of injuries are related to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves on the body and can result in severe pain and swelling to the affected area as well as loss of function. Recovery can be a slow and painful process and in some cases physiotherapy is necessary.
Following a motorcycling accident, it is not uncommon for the cyclist’s bones to be broken upon impact with the road or another vehicle. Limbs are often broken in an accident and depending on the area of the body that is impacted in the collision, permanent disability could be the outcome.
Unfortunately, amputations are a common occurrence following a motorcycle accident. This can be a serious hindrance to a person in as they recover possible leaving them disabled, depending on the limb that has been amputated and can also have serious psychological side effects.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is one of the most important and most sensitive parts of the human body. If damaged in a motorcycle accident it can lead to partial or complete paralysis. Paralysis can be temporary or permanent depending on how severe the spinal cord is damaged. The spinal cord can be damaged is a motorcyclist land on their neck or back during a collision or if an object pierces the motorcyclist back during a collision.
Anybody will agree after reading the above statistics and common injuries associated with motorbike accidents, that staying safe on your motorcycle should be your number one priority. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you stay safe while on your motorcycle:
Gear up and stay protected
Looking cool while on a motorcycle isn’t your priority, casual clothes are not appropriate riding gear. Avoid wearing jeans while on your motorcycle as they will provide very limited protection against road rash should you fall from your bike. Be comfortable and invest in ventilated gear so that in hot weather you can ride cool and comfortable. Always wear leather and reinforces jackets, trousers, and boots. Wear a helmet and goggles to help protect your head and face. Always wear gloves to protect your hands too.
Do not venture outside your comfort zone
Make sure the motorbike you choose is not more than you can handle. Make sure your bike fits you and you are comfortable in driving it. Your feet should be able to sit flat on the ground when you are sitting and should not be too heavy for you to handle. Getting on and off your bike should be easy. Your handlebars and controls should be within an easy and comfortable distance from you.
Check the forecast as the weather can lead to some hazardous driving conditions if your gut is telling you not to drive in that weather, trust it!
Follow the Rules of the Road
It goes without saying that you should respect the rules of the road, obey the speed limit and be aware of other road users around you. Remember the faster you go the longer it takes you to stop if needed and of course, never drink and drive.
Inspect your motorcycle before your set off
Before hitting the road, it is always a good idea to inspect your motorcycle. Things you should check are:
- Tires – check for any cracks, bulges or signs of wear. Ensure that the type pressure is correct also and never drive on a flat or slow deflating tyre.
- Underneath your motorcycle – check for signs of oil or fuel leaks – it is not too uncommon for this to happen without you realising.
- Headlights, taillights, and indicators – ensure that your lights and indicators are working
- Fuel and fluids – ensure there are no leakages and the level of each are correct. These should be checked on a weekly basis.
In general, take a walk around your motorcycle this will give you a good indication if everything is in order. Remember, never neglect something that you think might need to be fixed or checked out by a mechanic. This could lead to an accident in the future.
Never drive angry or upset
Your state of mind will affect your driving. Taking your motorbike out when you are upset, angry, or drowsy your mind will be distracted and it is at this time that you are most likely to make a mistake on the road, which could prove to be fatal.
Motorcycle Accident Legal Advice
Following a motorcycle accident, your first port of call is to seek medical attention. If you have suffered a serious injury you are likely to be taken to the hospital by an ambulance. In cases where a minor injury is sustained, it is still important to go to the local A+E or visit your local doctor as soon as possible afterward as minor injuries can sometimes lead to more serious injuries if left unattended to. Following this there are a number steps you should follow if the accident was not your fault and you are pursuing motorcycle accident compensation:
1. Report the accident to the Gardai
Regardless of how minor or serious the road traffic accident * was, it is important that you call the Gardaí to report the accident immediately. For minor accidents, the Gardaí may tell you that they will not be attending the scene. This is due to a case where you can settle the issue yourself. This is done by taking the appropriate information from the other person(s) involved. In these cases, it is also important that you visit your nearest Garda station to request that they take details of the accident and to take your statement about the accident.
For more serious road traffic accidents *, where an ambulance has been called, the Gardaí may arrive at the scene to assess, take statements from the people involved and any witnesses
2. Gather and record information of the incident
Before you speak with a solicitor about the incident and proceed with the claim, it is important that you have gotten your version of events together. Where possible you should document the following:
- Details of other people involved in the accident (registration numbers, contact information, insurance information.)
- Name and contact details of any emergency service workers that may have attended the scene
- Take a picture of the scene from different angles, this will help your solicitor understand the details of the accident.
- Time and date of the accident
- Weather conditions at the time
- Obtain medical reports from the doctors that treated you following the accident
- Keep copies of any Garda reports taken in relation to the accident.
- If there are any CCTV camera close by that may have recorded the accident ask for copies of the tapes. (If you cannot get access to CCTV your solicitor can help you get this via a data access request)
- Keep copies of any expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
3. Speak to a Road Traffic Accident Solicitor
If you are thinking of moving forward with a personal injury claim *, it is important that you contact a solicitor as early as possible in the process. They will have knowledge that you may not that will help move the case along faster for you.
At this stage, you can negotiate with the other party’s insurance company directly yourself. However, in some cases, your solicitor can do this for you to attempt to settle the case through the insurance company.
Step one in a motorbike accident claim will be to submit your personal injury claim * to the Injuries Board. They will then assess your case and suggest a compensation amount to be paid. This payment will come from the person at fault for the accident.
If you both agree to the amount then your case is settled and closed. If you either one of you or both of you disagree with the compensation amount then legal proceeding will be issued.
In many cases, once legal proceedings are issues a case may be settled before having to step foot into a courtroom. This can be done through settlement talks and meeting. Any settlements meetings will be attended by you and your solicitor. You will never have to take a step forward in your personal injury case * alone. If a settlement is not reached as a settlement meeting then your case may be heard by a judge who will determine the amount of compensation awarded to you.