Making a Motorbike Accident Compensation Claim in Canberra?

Over the years, we have run plenty of compensation cases for motorcyclists who have been injured by someone else’s carelessness on the roads.

There are a few things that come up in motorbike accidents that don’t come up in car crashes, and so this blog post will discuss a few of those things.

Most of the things we want to write about in this blog post center around “contributory negligence.”  That’s the idea that sometimes an injured party is partly responsible for their own injuries. 

Who is at fault?

One classic example is when a pedestrian walks out into the street without looking.  In contributory negligence cases, the court gives a percentage of the blame to each party, and the injured party’s compensation is reduced by that percentage. 

So, for example, if a pedestrian walks out into the middle of the street without looking, the court might decide that the accident is 80% the pedestrian’s fault, but also 20% the driver’s fault. 

The pedestrian shouldn’t have walked into traffic, but also, the driver should have noticed that the pedestrian was about to step out, and should have tried to prevent the accident.

So why is all of this particularly relevant to motorcycles? Well, one thing that motorbike riders sometimes ask is “what if I wasn’t wearing my gear?”

The first piece of gear we should think about is the helmet. We all know it’s illegal to go riding without one. 

But actually, even if you have an accident and you’re not wearing a helmet, you can still have a claim. 

You might have a circumstance where the injuries having nothing to do with the head, and the accident is caused by someone else doing something really, really stupid. 

For example, imagine if a car came zooming around a corner on the wrong side of the road, a motorcyclist gets hit, and their main injury is a broken leg. 

It doesn’t really matter if they were wearing a helmet – the missing helmet hasn’t contributed to the accident.  They would likely be able to make 100% of their claim. 

On the other hand, if a helmetless motorcyclist going around the left-hand bend leans too far, and their head collides with an illegally parked car, the driver of the car has technically been negligent, but a court is likely to find that the motorcyclist’s negligence is 100%, and they cannot get any compensation at all.

So that’s helmets, but what about other gear? We all know that it’s a good idea to wear your gloves, riding jeans, and a good jacket and proper boots.

But we think all of us motorcyclists are guilty of skipping at least some of the gear sometimes; no one feels like wearing leathers for a quick trip to the shops in the middle of summer. 

We have personally been curious about whether this is considered negligent for a little while, and I’ve done a bit of research. 

We cannot find an Australian case where a court had said that a motorcyclist was partially at fault because they didn’t wear gear (other than helmets). 

For your better understanding

There’s one Tasmanian decision, Potts v Frost, which mentions it in passing, but the riders had been drinking and weren’t wearing helmets. 

The judge was much more concerned about that than the lack of jackets and jeans.

Another factor that we have seen in motorbike accidents is that, sometimes, motorbikes can travel side-by-side within a single lane.  Usually this in a staggered formation, or sometimes side-by-side. 

Some people think this is illegal, but it definitely isn’t.  You are allowed to have two riders side-by-side in the same lane. 

In fact, you’re even allowed to have a third rider overtaking the first two. 

Accidents in this situation can be a little bit complicated.  What if the front bike swerves across the path of the rear bike? 

Usually, in car accidents, the car at the back has responsibility for making sure they are leaving a safe gap. 

But with motorbikes, if you’re riding side-by-side, it isn’t just the back bike that is responsible for making sure you’re leaving each other room. 

The bike in front should “maintain its line of travel,” particularly in a group riding situation where the front rider knows there will be other bikes around, jostling for position. 

What that means is that, when two riders have an accident traveling in a staggered group ride, both the front rider and the bike rider will often be able to make a claim, but the compensation might be reduced a bit, especially for the back rider.

The main thing to keep in mind is that none of these situations are likely to totally destroy a claim. 

There is even a case where an intoxicated rider, who was only wearing a tee-shirt and shorts (not even a helmet), received 70% of his compensation. 

Injured from a motorbike accident?

If you have a motorbike crash that isn’t your fault, it is worth giving us a call even if you think you’ve also done something silly. 

You might be surprised to find you still have a good claim.

United Legal

Canberra’s Best Lawyers

For our legal support services Contact us at (02) 6295 2283

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