According to the Road Safety Authority, motorcyclists represent less than 2% of vehicles on Irish roads but represent 10% of road deaths.
According to the OECD, a motorcyclist is four times more likely to be killed in Ireland than in another European country. The Irish Times reports that while motorcyclist deaths have been falling, they are still among the most vulnerable road users. In fact, the risk of dying in a traffic crash, per km travelled, is about 27 times higher than it is for a car occupant, based on recent figures. Some common types of collisions include:
- serious impact when motorcyclist attempts to overtake a vehicle which is turning right;
- head-on collision with oncoming traffic while overtaking;
- motorcycle losing control on a corner resulting in head on collision with oncoming traffic; and
- cars merging onto motorway and colliding with a motorcyclist.
Any of these examples may result in fatal or life changing injuries.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to take extra care with regard to safety. Helmets are essential, jackets and trousers should be properly protective of abrasions in the event of making contact with the road surface. Body armour can be utilised on exposed areas such as elbows, back, knees, shoulders, hips and shins. High visibility clothing should also be worn. Particular regard should be had to ensuring your tyres have adequate tread and are free from rips.
Of course, motorcyclists are particularly exposed in a collision and can suffer potentially fatal injuries to the chest and head. Despite this, many commuters opt for a motorcycle as their primary means of transport. The reduced running costs, powerful acceleration and the ease with which motorcyclists can navigate traffic are attractive features to many, especially on congested routes. Those features are balanced out by the increased risk and vulnerability of the motorcyclist while on the road. Frequently, car users will not see motorcycles as readily as other cars, especially in challenging weather conditions. Car drivers may not be fully aware of the motorcyclist’s need to brake or steer with precision and care in order to maintain control. It may sound obvious, but due to its more stable stance on the road, a car can recover easily from a careless manoeuvre without losing control. A motorcyclist may be forced to take evasive action in extreme circumstances and may find the motorcycle is far less forgiving in an emergency situation with potentially deadly consequences. A car driver will of course always be under an obligation to drive safely no matter what the circumstances and where a careless manoeuvre causes a motorcyclist to encounter a hazard, that car driver may be liable for an accident which follows.
In these circumstances, the motorcyclist is significantly more exposed in comparison to the car driver who benefits from ABS, seatbelts, multiple airbags and crumple zones. The motorcyclist is unrestrained while on-board and they can be thrown off in an instant and are dangerously exposed in such violent accidents. Wearing the correct helmet may mean the difference between life and death. The range of injuries that can occur in such accidents may vary in severity from lacerations or bruising all the way to dismemberment or permanent disablement. Recovery prospects will also vary and will depend on the precise nature of the impacts suffered in the accident. Whether or not the accident was another road user’s fault will also depend on what exactly happened in those split seconds and the nature of the decisions which were made but also considering other factors such as the number of vehicles involved and whether the road was wet or dry at the time of the collision.
Was the road surface to blame?
If there were issues in relation to the road surface possibly in the case of road works, engineering assessment will conduct a survey to determine whether the works were carried out to the appropriate standard. Liability on the part of a local authority may arise but only if the defects in question were caused by recent works or bad design or execution. Worn out or pot-holed roads are generally not legally reliable in finding fault associated with a personal injuries case.
How can motorcycle accident solicitors help?
A solicitor can undertake a detailed investigation of the facts of the accident and make a realistic assessment of the strength of your case. The investigation of the accident may involve the use of CCTV, dash-cam or other evidence and may also involve coordination with the Gardaí. Drawing from many sources to build a complete picture of the accident helps to inform the strength of any case.
Having found yourself in the unpleasant situation of being involved in a motorcycle accident it’s not unreasonable to expect those who caused the accident to be held responsible for your injuries. At the very least, even if you decide ultimately not to pursue the claim it makes sense to have obtained comprehensive legal advice and explored your options fully. It’s only then that you will have come to an informed decision.
Any projected settlement amount that can be indicated to you will depend on the severity of the injuries and your prospects for recovery. Regard will be had to whether or not you can still work and whether or not rehabilitation is needed to bring you back to full health.