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Eight killed in one month: tragic toll calls for motorbike vigilance

The newly released data showing a spike in fatalities on Queensland roads is a tragic reminder for increased vigilance around motorcyclists.

An Australian Road Deaths Database report released on August 19, shows there were 20 road deaths in Queensland in July 2019, and eight of those fatalities were motorcyclists or pillion riders. It’s an alarming spike, with one motorcyclist death in June and five in May. Every death on our roads is tragic and invariably causes devastation to the families of the deceased.

Motorbike crash and fatality statistics

  • Australian road fatality data shows that in the 12-months to July, 208 motorcyclists were killed, 14 more than previous period last year
  • In the first 7 months of the year, there have been 27 motorcyclist deaths in Qld
  • For the month of July 2019, there were 20 road deaths in Qld, 8 of those were motorcyclists or motorcyclist pillion passengers (40%). Their ages ranged from 28 to 52 years.
  • In June there was one motorcycle death, in May there were five motorcycle deaths
    (Source: Australian Road Deaths Database, date accessed 22 August 2019)

The recent increase in fatalities serves as a critical reminder for all motorists to exercise particular caution around motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are largely unprotected on the roads (compared to those in cars and trucks) and riders who are lucky enough to survive a crash are often left with catastrophic injuries.

motorbike crash.

A car veered across two lanes and smashed into Peter Watkins at Nerang in 2015.

Lucky to be alive – Peter Watkin’s story

By his own account, Gold Coast man Peter Watkins was “split in two” in a motorcycle crash at Nerang on January 3 in 2015, when he was coming home from Mount Tamborine. A driver veered across two lanes and smashed into Peter, 58, while his 26-year-old son watched the carnage from a few hundred metres behind.

The driver of a Holden Commodore failed to give way and did not see Mr Watkins when he was turning. On impact, the father-of-two sustained multiple horrific injuries, including a pelvis broken in two.

motorbike crash

Peter Watkins in hospital after his motorbike crash at Nerang.

Mr Watkins suffered two cardiac arrests in the ambulance on the way to Gold Coast Hospital, had six weeks in a coma, eleven months in hospital (and further hospital admissions thereafter), and had to learn how to walk again. The motorcycle crash had a devasting impact on Mr Watkin’s life.

He has not been able to return to work as a cabinet maker or in any other employment – nor is he able to return to riding, a hobby he was passionate about for many years.

Mr Watkins made a successful compensation claim with Attwood Marshall Lawyers and bravely shared his story to encourage riders to wear “high vis” clothing and helmets, to be more visible on the roads.

He said Queensland highways were particularly dangerous for motorcyclists and encouraged drivers to check their blind-spots to indicate, double-check for motorcyclists before merging lanes, to be careful at all intersections, and to be wary of their obligations to share the roads safely with motorcyclists.

Compensation Law for a motorbike crash

A motorcyclist injured due to the negligence of another is able to claim compensation as against the CTP insurer of the vehicle at fault. Such claims include compensation for pain and suffering, income loss, treatment costs, care and assistance and similar out of pocket expenses. Usually, the compensation is received as a once-off lump sum.

If you are injured in a motorbike accident going to or from work, you may be able to claim workers compensation statutory benefits (eg weekly payments, medical treatment etc) from the workers’ compensation insurer (eg Workcover Queensland) in addition to making the CTP compensation claim.

 

Motorcycle ‘dependency claims’ – Compensation to the Families

In addition to making a CTP compensation claim for a motorcyclist’s own injuries, in the cases of road fatalities caused by the negligence of another driver/vehicle, the families (ie dependent spouses, children etc) can make a compensation law claim with respect to their loss of their dependency on the decease

d motorcyclist to provide them with income/financial support, and for loss of services.

Common law dependency claims are claims made by the dependents in the one legal action and the damages are split between the dependents in accordance with their individual level of dependency on the deceased.

The settlement of any common law dependency claim involving compensation awarded to dependent minors (ie under age of 18) will require the sanction of the court or public trustee to ensure that the settlement if fair and reasonable to each minor. Those funds will thereafter be held on trust until the minor reaches adulthood.

Conclusion

Motorcycle accidents on our roads usually result in death or serious injury to the unprotected motorcyclists involved.  In the cases of motorcyclist fatalities, the families of the deceased riders are usually left with enormous losses in addition to dealing with unimaginable grief and devastation.

Given the high number of motorcyclist deaths on our roads in recent times, we urge all road users to be mindful of our motorcyclist friends and community members and exercise an abundance of caution to prevent these horrific accidents from occurring in the first place.  In the event that the worst has occurred, we recommend that those affected seek early legal advice and assistance in responding to the tragedy. Please be safe on our roads.

If you need to make a CTP claim or dependency claim, visit here, or phone 1800 621 071.

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Jeremy Roche

Jeremy Roche

  • Compensation Lawyer
  • Insurance Litigation
  • Direct line: 07 5506 8222
  • Mobile: 0417 731 119