Common Causes of Serious Motorcycle Accidents in Ontario
Riding a motorcycle gives you a feeling of freedom like nothing else. You’re zooming down the open road, slicing through the air like a hot knife through butter. It’s the closest you can come to flying without leaving the ground.
Unfortunately riding a motorcycle can also be a risky pursuit. Motorcycle accidents can cause serious life-threatening injuries, or even death. Lacking many of the safety features common in cars, motorcycles don’t offer their riders a lot of protection in the event of an accident.
The vulnerability inherent in riding a motorcycle is perhaps best understood when you look at the Ministry of Transportation’s Annual Report 2014 which details 2,000 motorcycle accident related injuries and 56 related deaths. Those numbers seem particularly high when you consider that Ontario’s motorcycle season is one of the shortest in North America.
In 2017, the Ontario Provincial Police said that the rate of motorcycle accident-related deaths in Ontario was becoming alarming. That year was the worst in the past 10 years. Common contributing factors in these deaths include alcohol, excessive speed, and the loss of control.
In this article, we’ll detail the common causes of motorcycle accidents and the injuries commonly involved. We’ll also look at fault in motorcycle accidents and give you some advice on what you can do if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident.
The Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
As you might expect, factors like speed, driver inattention, road conditions, and weather often play a major role in accidents on motorcycles. However, there are several other conditions we need to consider. These include:
A major cause of death among Ontario riders is head-on collisions. This is especially true on back roads where visibility can be limited, and you sometimes can’t see oncoming traffic.
Motorcyclists should never dismiss the potential for danger when approaching a car about to turn left. Often, the driver doesn’t see the rider approaching, or if they do, they misjudge the motorcycle’s speed. Regrettably, a significant proportion of motorcycle accidents in Ontario happen when a car is turning left.
With the rise of digital technology also comes an uptick in accidents where drivers are more focused on their devices than the road. And when this happens, a distracted driver can often lose track of the smallest vehicle that they share the road with. Such behavior is inexcusable and puts all motorists at risk.
Inexperience & too much bike
Motorcycles hold a special appeal to young riders, and every year a new crop of cyclists head out on the highway. They fail, however, to realize they’re not invincible and tend to take on more than they can manage.
With modern motorcycles getting more and more powerful, younger riders often choose a motorcycle with more power than they actually know how to use. Talk to a seasoned rider with a couple of decades riding experience and this is their best recommendation for newer riders – don’t choose a bike with more power then you know how to use and manage.
Studies show that less experienced riders crash most often in their first year owning a bike.
Cars changing lanes
Some drivers aren’t as observant as they should be when changing lanes. A driver who does a poor job of checking his mirrors or blind spots can easily overlook a nearby motorcycle and cause an accident.
What might only be a simple fender bender involving two cars can have catastrophic consequences when the vehicle in front is a motorcycle.
Some riders think they’re making the best of crowded highway conditions, or are making themselves more visible by making a new lane for themselves between two existing lanes. This is especially common when the general flow of traffic is slow moving or stopped. But cars can still change lanes at any point, and drivers usually don’t look for motorcycles that could be approaching quickly between lanes.
Common motorcycle accident-related injuries
Due to the ease with which you can be thrown clear of an accident, being in an accident is often worse for a motorcyclist than it would be for a car driver. Riders are particularly at risk for the following motorcycle accident related injuries:
Yes, helmets are mandatory for all riders in Ontario. But even wearing a top-rated helmet, you run a significant risk of head trauma in an accident. Chances are your head will hit the ground or another vehicle. Although helmets can help reduce the force of an impact, there’s only so much they can do. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common with motorcycle injuries. Complications of TBI can include internal bleeding and concussions. They may also lead to catastrophic, life-long problems that could require attendant care and rehabilitation. These include:
- mental impairment
- loss of motor function
- memory/speech issues
- vision problems
Spinal cord/thoracic spine injuries
In a study of 266 motorcycle accident victims over a period of 42 months, 13 of the patients suffered from thoracic spine injuries. That works out to roughly 5% — or one in 20. 11 of them had been catapulted from their bikes at the time of the accident. These injuries are often the result of fractured or compressed vertebrae, and since the spinal cord is an integral part of the nervous system, the complications arising from such an injury can be catastrophic. Paralysis, sometimes full body, is just one possible outcome. A spinal cord injury could leave you dependent on medical treatments and attendant care for the rest of your life.
Breaking a leg is only a good thing on stage. But leg fractures, simple and compound, are quite common in motorcycle accidents. Also common are broken hips, ankles, and feet. While broken bones are fairly simple to set, there are some post-treatment complications to watch out for. Old breaks can often lead to a lifetime of joint stiffness and possibly arthritis.
Motorcycle accidents often happen at high speeds. That’s why it’s crucial you never skimp on protective gear. Jackets, boots, and gloves. Whatever it takes to protect you from the scarring and disfigurement associated with an impact with the road. Also, consider upgrading your helmet; many riders have been permanently disfigured merely because they got into an accident wearing an open face helmet.
Filing a lawsuit – insurance and/or personal
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, you have several courses of action you can pursue to get the compensation you need.
First is your own insurance company. Statutory Accident Benefits cover all policy-holders regardless of fault and provide coverage for income replacement, attendant care costs, medical/rehabilitation expenses, housekeeping/caregiver costs, and death benefits. It is possible that your claim could be denied though. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer to help guide you through the often-cryptic process of filing a claim.
Second is filing a tort claim against the at-fault party (usually the other driver). This can be done at the same time you make a claim to your insurer. Tort claims usually include expenses beyond your accident benefits coverage as well as intangible elements like pain and suffering.
In Ontario, you have two years from the date of an accident to file suit. However, there are shorter time limits to consider especially if you believe a government agency might be partially responsible. Such would be the case if road maintenance was a contributing factor. That’s why it’s vital to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you are complying with the statute of limitations and that all of your paperwork is filed on time.
Getting motorcycle riders the compensation they deserve
There’s nothing like the feeling of riding a motorbike, but that freedom can be severely compromised if you’re involved in an accident. A 2017 Canadian Medical Society study concluded that bikers are three times as likely to be injured in an accident than a car or truck driver. And the medical costs associated with a motorcycle accident are six times higher on average.
But that’s not to say you don’t deserve proper compensation for your injuries regardless of what the insurance company or the at-fault driver’s lawyers say. If you’ve been injured in an accident, consult with a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as you can to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Legal representation from a name you can trust
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, get in touch with Mackesy Smye today. Our personal injury legal team specializes in motorcycle accident-related injuries. We’ve helped a multitude of clients in the Hamilton area get the compensation they deserve. Use the online contact form below to arrange a free consultation regarding your case.