Accidents on the road and motorways can be horrible experiences. Motorbike accidents are increasingly common on our roads, with riders often sustaining injuries that vary from mild neck pain to more serious injuries affecting the back and head. The law in this area has been around for a very long time, but it can at times be quite confusing to understand what parts are relevant to pursue a personal injury claim.
It is very important to understand the difference between bringing a personal injury, civil, claim that tends to be brought to the courts by individuals and a criminal claim that will, more often than not be initiated by the police.
Claiming Personal Injury For A Motorbike Accident
Under UK law it is a criminal offence to cause death by dangerous driving; to drive dangerously; to drive without due care and attention; and to cause death while driving without due care and attention when unfit to drive through drink or drugs; and to cause death by driving without due attention or reasonable consideration. These kinds of offences will normally be dealt with by the police.
Bringing a claim in a motorbike accident for personal injury is different, and requires a particular set of criteria to be met. Anyone injured in a motorbike accident need to establish;
- That you were owed a duty of care; and
- That the duty of care owed was breached – the defender failed to observe the standard of care of the reasonable driver in his situation and was negligent
Duty Of Care
It is agreed that road users, including those on motorbikes, are obliged to take reasonable care while using the roads to avert from doing anything, or not doing something, that they would have realistically anticipated as likely to cause somebody else to be injured.
It is important to understand that a road user is not required to be able to point to the particular instance that causes injury. Rather, the road user must be able to see that generally, doing something or failing to do something could cause an injury. It is well recognised that in any road traffic claims, the duty of care that is owed by road users is to drive with ordinary care and skill. The best way of understanding this is to think of it as the standard of care and skill as the average or ordinary road user.
The duty of care is owed to other road users – car and motorbike drivers – passengers, pedestrians and passengers of drivers.
Breach Of The Duty Of Care
The issue here is to demonstrate that the party that caused the motorbike accident breached the duty of care that was owed; they were not driving with the ordinary level of care and skill and were negligent.
There are different ways to prove that someone was negligent, and much will depend on the circumstances of each individual claim. One of the ways that negligence can be established is by relying on the terms of the Highway Code. It is not uncommon that a breach of the Highway Code has resulted in compensation being awarded to injured parties in a motorbike accident.
Compensation For A Motorbike Accident
If a party can establish this, then the next step in a personal injury claim is normally to receive compensation for the damage/ injury. Because motor vehicles represent hazards on the roads themselves, motor vehicle users are obliged by law to be covered by ‘third party liability insurance’. This is a kind of insurance that is specifically designed to pay for any compensation that is being sought by a party in a personal injury claim, arising from a motorbike accident.
If following a motorbike accident, a party is injured or their property is damaged e.g. their motorbike or their car, then the defenders third party insurance will cover this. In the case of motorbike damage, the compensation awarded would normally include the cost of repairing it or its value if it is deemed a ‘write off’. It may also be able to cover the cost of some of the kit of a motorcyclist, but this should be discussed with a solicitor.
Key Points To Remember
As in any kind of personal injury claim, details of the situation are incredibly important. Any victim in a motorbike accident – whether another road user or otherwise – should try and note down all of what happened to them, and should have the following points in mind;
- What are the facts of the situation?
- What happened as a result of the accident?
- Did I need medical attention?
- Did I take pictures of the accident?
All of this information should be provided to a specialist personal injury solicitor, who will be able to consider the merit of the claim. They will also be able to advise on the level of compensation that is likely to be achieved.