Even if a motorcyclist has years of experience and knowledge of the roads, accidents are inevitable – and rest assured, it is usually the motorcyclist who comes off second best. Compensation Law Senior Associate Tina Davis and Senior Paralegal Sue Davidson discuss some alarming recent statistics of motorbike accidents on our roads and what options for compensation may be available.
“Exhilarating”, “liberating,” and “pure adrenaline rush” are often the words used to describe riding on a motorcycle.
Despite the risks associated with the thrill of riding a motorcycle, there are also health benefits from enjoying the fresh air and taking in nature, to helping create a form of mindfulness that allows a rider to destress. Some of the top motorcycling routes in Australia include the Great Ocean Road, the open roads of Tasmania, the Oxley Highway, the Kangaroo Valley Ride, the Lions Road, and Adelaide Hills, to name just a few.
There are also the more practical perks of motorcycling, including avoiding busy public transport, reducing costs of fuel and your commute time, and having more ease getting around.
For all the freedom and fun that comes with riding, the risks of severe injury or death are a reality. They may be risks that many motorcyclists are prepared to accept as “part of riding,” but that shouldn’t lead to complacency by any means.
Motorcyclists make up 18 per cent of all road fatalities in Australia, despite only accounting for 5.7 per cent of all Australian vehicle registrations. Last year alone, 229 people died in motorcycle accidents nationwide.
They are also 30 times more likely to be killed in a road accident than a car occupant. Motorbikes offer less protection to their riders and are more unstable than other vehicles on the road. Riders can also be hard to spot and are more vulnerable to harsh weather and hazardous road conditions.
Between 2011 and 2020, New South Wales consistently experienced the highest number of motorcycle fatalities in the country. That title has now shifted to Queensland, which has had the most motorcycle fatalities since 2021. At least 41 motorcyclists were killed on Queensland’s roads in the first seven months of 2023.
Men make up almost 98 per cent of riders involved in motorcycle accidents, according to the Queensland Police Forensic Crash Unit. And we’ve seen that figure borne out in recent headlines, with men dying in motorcycle accidents in Logan, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
There is a misconception that younger motorcyclists are reckless or careless, but statistics say otherwise. The 40-64 age group often has the highest fatalities, peaking in 2016 with 119 deaths recorded. In 2020, for example, motorcycle fatalities cut short the lives of 84 riders aged 40-64 years, compared to 60 riders aged 26-39 and 29 riders aged 17-25.
The heightened risk in the older generation is likely due to a decline in an older rider’s vision and reaction time. Mature riders also tend to opt for larger, heavier bikes which can be more dangerous in the event of an accident.
Motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic
Common types of motorcycle accidents include:
- drivers failing to give way, causing t-bone collisions,
- blind-spot vision accidents,
- rear-end accidents,
- ‘dooring’ accidents,
- merging accidents,
- head-on collisions,
- and speeding accidents.
Injuries commonly involve brain damage, traumatic head injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, torn ligaments, “crush” injuries, internal organ ruptures, soft tissue injuries, road rash, and psychological trauma such as PTSD.
Undoubtedly, care is paramount when riding a motorcycle. Motorbike riding safety should be at the front of every rider’s mind. It is much more important than reaching a destination in time.
In addition to wearing a motorbike helmet and appropriate protective gear, a rider should always ride within their comfort zone and ensure they are up to date on road rules, including laws around “edge filtering” and “lane filtering.”
The bike also needs to be in good condition. If it’s a new ride, take the time to familiarise yourself with it.
Suppose you’re a motorcycle rider or a pillion passenger involved in an accident through the fault of another driver. In that case, you may be eligible to claim for compensation for your injuries.
This compensation would include costs related to the accident, covering:
- medical and hospital expenses,
- out-of-pocket expenses,
- loss of income,
- pain and suffering,
- domestic assistance (paid and unpaid), and
- rehabilitation services for physical and psychological injuries.
In the case of a road fatality, spouses or dependents are also eligible for compensation, including for the loss of financial dependency and the loss of services provided by the deceased.
These claims would be for a one-off payment comprising their past and future losses from the motorcycle accident, and in some cases, claims for nervous shock.
Strict time limits apply
In Queensland, if a vehicle hits you and you have taken note of the registration, service of a Notice of Accident Claim Form is required within nine months after the date of the accident, or within one month of consulting a lawyer about the incident, whichever is the earlier.
In certain circumstances, the claim form can still be lodged after nine months if a reasonable excuse for delay is provided. The claim must then commence in court (or otherwise time limit protected) within three years of the date of injury, or the claim will be statute-barred, and you may be permanently unable to make your claim.
For claims where the at-fault vehicle was unidentified, unregistered or uninsured, a Notice of Accident Claim Form should be given to the Nominal Defendant within three months of the accident, or a reasonable excuse for delay will be required.
A compliant claim must be served on the Nominal Defendant within nine months from the accident or the claim will be statute-barred, and you will be permanently unable to claim.
Claims must be commenced in court (or otherwise time-limit protected) within 3 years of the accident or the claim will be statute barred and any entitlement to claim compensation will be extinguished.
Different time limits apply to minors (under 18 years of age) and persons under legal incapacity.
Further, shorter time limits apply in New South Wales, which follows a different compensation process.
The earlier you obtain legal advice about your potential entitlement to claim compensation, the better your outcome will likely be. Our expert legal team can guide you through the motor vehicle accident claim’s process to ensure you give yourself the best chance to achieve an optimal outcome.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – helping injured motorists for over 75 years
We urge all road users to be mindful of our motorcyclist friends and community members and exercise an abundance of caution to prevent horrific accidents from occurring in the first place. If an unexpected accident has turned your life upside down, it is always best to seek early legal advice and assistance to be supported through the process.
Our expert team of personal injury lawyers have the state-specific knowledge and experience to help anyone who has suffered injuries on Queensland, New South Wales, and Victorian roads.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and need advice and support to obtain the treatment you need, contact our friendly team by calling our 24/7 phone line on 1800 621 071.