If you have sustained an injury in a motorbike accident for which you were not entirely to blame, you should be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries from the negligent party. This guide provides information about the different types of accidents that can occur, some of the more common injuries that are associated with motorbike accidents and how you can ensure that you receive a fair and adequate amount of compensation for your injuries.
Motorbike accidents are far more serious than the typical road traffic accident because motorbikes do not offer riders and passengers the same head injury protection as a car would in a similar collision. Even if you wear a crash helmet when on your bike, you are still more vulnerable to the impact caused by a collision. The same applies when you are ejected from your motorbike into the path of oncoming traffic, against a safety barrier or onto the road surface itself.
Motorbikes accidents, where another road user is involved, are most commonly caused by the other road user failing to pay due care and attention. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents runs a motorbike awareness campaign called “Sorry mate, I didn´t see you”, and that sums up the primary cause of motorbike accidents that lead to personal injury compensation claims – irrespective of whether the negligent road user is a goods vehicle driver, car driver or a pedestrian that has walked out in front of you, causing you to skid and crash in an attempt to avoid hitting them.
Although motorbike accidents involving other road users make up a large proportion of personal injury compensation claims, other factors can be responsible for your injuries. Poorly maintained road surfaces that are full of potholes or have poor drainage can cause an accident if you hit a hole in the road or surface water freezes over during cold weather. Similarly, diesel spillages from goods vehicles and fuel tankers are known to cause many serious accidents each year, and faulty servicing of your vehicle may also lead to a motorbike accident in which you are injured.
Motorbike Accident Injuries
According to figures collected from American A&E Departments – but equally valid here – the main injury sustained in a motorbike accident is a fractured bone (27%) with a third of these motorbike accident victims having broken either their fibula or tibia. Almost a quarter (23%) of all motorbike accident victims had injuries in multiple locations, with 18% sustaining head injuries and 10% experiencing some form of injury to the back or spine.
The most common type of head injury is a “non-penetrative” head injury, where a violent impact to the head forces the brain against the skull – causing damage to the brain organ, stretching the brain tissue and squeezing blood vessels. The majority of spine injuries to motorbike riders are from shearing forces, which involve a rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head (similar to whiplash injuries in a motor vehicle). In all the research that was performed, it did not matter whether you were the motorbike rider or pillion passenger – you were equally as likely to sustain the same serious injuries.
Not only are motorbike accidents more serious in comparison to those for other road users, they are more costly to the victim. Because of the nature of their injuries, victims of motorbike accidents have a longer rehabilitation period, more time off from work and quite possibly experience psychological trauma as a result of their accident, which saps them of their confidence to get back on their motorbike. The expense involved in recovering from a motorbike accident means that it may be absolutely vital to you that you seek financial recompense from the liable party – even if you were partly to blame for your injuries through your own lack of care.
Motorbike Accident Compensation
The process for claiming personal injury compensation after you have sustained an injury in a motorbike accident which was not entirely your fault follows a set procedure. However, before you commence your application, you need to have a medical report confirming the injuries for which you are claiming compensation, details of the defendant against whom you are claiming and, if the Gardai have attended the scene of your accident, a copy of the relevant entry in their “Road Traffic Accident Report Book”. Even if the Gardai did not attend the scene, it can often be in your favour to visit a Garda station and report the incident to them, as it adds weight to your claim for personal injury compensation.
The application form required to claim personal injury compensation can be obtained from the Injuries Board Ireland or completed online. Although appearing straightforward, you have to bear in mind that your claim for compensation will be assessed only on what details you complete on the application form and, in most cases, there are insufficient fields in which you can explain all your personal circumstances. An additional letter may have to accompany your application form if you want the Injuries Board Ireland to take every financial consequence of your motorbike injury into account. Please note that the online facility is not available for motorbike accidents involving minors or if you are claiming following a motorbike fatality.
The Injuries Board Ireland will approach the person(s) named on the application form as the liable party to ensure that they accept responsibility for your injuries and then proceed to assess your claim for personal injury compensation. The publication used to assess the “value” of your compensation claim is known as the “Book of Quantum”. The book lists various injuries that you may have sustained in a motorbike accident, and grades them according to their severity and the likely period it may take to recover – if at all.
After they have studied your application form and accompanying documentation, the Injuries Board Ireland will request that you attend a further medical examination before delivering their assessment. If you and the defendant both agree on the figure as assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland, they will issue an “Order to Pay” – which has the same status as an award of court – and the defendant (or, more commonly, their insurance company) will pay you the compensation amount. This procedure should be completed within nine months of your accident.
Potential Issues with Motorbike Accident Compensation
There are a number of circumstances which may prevent the Injuries Board Ireland from assessing your claim for motorbike accident compensation.
Denial of Liability – When the Injuries Board Ireland approaches the person who was responsible for your injuries, they have 90 days in which to consent to the Injuries Board Ireland making an assessment. Should they choose not to reply or they deny their liability, then the Injuries Board Ireland cannot complete the process, and will issue an “authorisation” for you to pursue your claim for the motorbike accident through the courts.
Contributory Negligence – Contributory negligence is where you have contributed to your injuries by your own actions – even though somebody else was to blame for the accident. Circumstances in which contributory negligence may affect your award of compensation would include you not driving with full care and attention or failing to wear a crash helmet. Cases involving contributory negligence, or where there may be several parties to blame for your injuries, are also released by the Injuries Board Ireland.
Non-Acceptance of Assessment – Once the Injuries Board Ireland has processed your assessment for motorbike accident compensation, you, or the liable party, may feel the amount of compensation suggested by them is inappropriate for the extent of your injuries. Both parties have the right to object to the final assessment and, even though liability has been established and your injuries independently examined, you still may have to go through litigation in court before finally receiving any compensation.
Statute of Limitations – The Statute of Limitations imposes a time limit on how long you have from your motorbike accident to claim compensation. In most cases this is two years, although if you believe that you escaped from your motorbike accident with minor injuries, only to develop something more serious later on, you may be able to claim motorbike accident compensation two years from the “date of knowledge” that you had sustained an injury.
Third Party Capture – Whilst the Injuries Board Ireland is assessing your claim for motorbike accident compensation, you may be approached by an insurance company representing the negligent party. They will try to get you to accept an early offer of settlement based on the principle that it will be less than what the Injuries Board Ireland may assess, but you can have it sooner rather than later. Whereas a short term injection of funds may be welcome at a time when you are unable to work and provide an income for your family, it is worth remembering that insurance companies will be more concerned about their profits than about your long term financial well-being.
At a time when you may still be recovering from your injuries and possibly suffering from the psychological trauma of your motorbike accident, the whole procedure for claiming personal injury compensation may feel like it is all too much. Certainly, if you want to ensure that you receive a fair and adequate amount of compensation, it is far better to seek advice from a specialised personal injury claims solicitor before you start your application.
A personal injury claims solicitor will have the experience to comprehensively complete the application form for the Injuries Board Ireland, represent you in any litigation procedures, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and offer you advice throughout your claim for personal injury compensation. Furthermore, in most cases, the fees charged by a personal injury claims solicitor are paid by the negligent party´s insurance company and not deducted from your award of compensation.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that 90% of people making personal injury claims for compensation, after being injured in a motorbike accident, do so with the assistance of a solicitor. If you would like to find out more about how a solicitor can help you with a personal injury claim for compensation, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our contact details can be found on our “Contact Us” page and we can assure you of a dedicated and confidential service at all times.
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When you call us, you will be put through to a solicitor who is very experienced in motorbike accident compensation and other personal injury claims.
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